“A fruitful meeting in Stockholm with the representative of the Belarusian opposition Olga Kovalkova. We talked about the way forward for a Belarusian national dialogue “, Linde announced in a message posted on Twitter, to which she attached an image from the meeting.
“Repression and violence against peaceful protesters and the opposition are completely unacceptable,” the Swedish minister said.
Olga Kovalkova is one of the members of the Coordinating Council, set up by the Belarusian opposition to negotiate the departure of President Alexander Lukashenko from power, who has been challenged in the streets after announcing the results of the August 9 presidential election.
Olga Kovalkova visiting Anne Linde Twitter PHOTOS
Hunted by Lukashenko’s men, Kovalkova announced on September 5 that she had taken refuge in Poland.
Along with Poland, Sweden is one of the most favorable European states to the protest movement in Belarus.
Last week, the Nordic country sent diplomats to show support for Nobel Laureate in Literature Svetlana Alexievich, the only member of the seven members of the leadership of the Coordinating Council who is still at large in the former Soviet republic.
More than 100,000 protesters marched in Minsk for the fifth consecutive Sunday, demanding the resignation of Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994.
But Lukashenko refuses to comply with the protesters’ request and seeks support from Russian President Vladimir Putin as he represses his protesters.
On Monday, Putin received the Belarusian president in Sochi, a resort on the Black Sea.
The Russian president announced last month that he has set up a special police force for Belarus in order to deploy it there if he deems it appropriate. On Monday, Russia officially sent paratroopers to Belarus in a joint military exercise called the “Slavic Brotherhood.” It remains to be seen whether Russian paratroopers will leave Belarus on September 25, the date scheduled for the end of this exercise.
Although he has a difficult relationship with Putin, Lukashenko believes the Russian president could help him stay in power.
Russia has long been pushing for economic integration with Belarus, including through a common currency.
Receiving Lukashenko, Putin made a vague statement to his counterpart: “I am convinced that your experience in political activity” will allow Belarus to “reach new borders.”
Putin insists on a constitutional reform in the neighboring country.