Lukashenko to Meet Putin in Sochi

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Monday arrived in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi where he will hold face-to-face talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the BelTA news agency reported. This is Lukashenko’s first visit abroad after the presidential election that was followed by mass protests, TASS reported.

His visit to Russia was preceded by intensive preparations. The leaders of the two countries held phone conversations six times during August. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin visited Minsk in early September, while earlier Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei had visited Moscow.

The Kremlin press service reported that the leaders plan to discuss key issues of further development of Russian-Belarusian relations of strategic partnership and alliance. “A special focus will be placed on the implementation of major joint projects in the trade-economic, energy and cultural-humanitarian spheres, as well as the prospects for promoting integration processes within the Union State,” the Russian leader’s press service noted.

According to Lukashenko, it is planned to dot the i’s on the most sensitive issues for the two countries during his meeting with Putin.

The Belarusian President visited Russia and met with Putin on June 30 at the unveiling of the Rzhev memorial in the Tver Region. A couple of days earlier he had attended the victory parade in Moscow. He visited Sochi most recently this February.

The presidential election in Belarus was held on August 9. According to the Central Election Committee, Alexander Lukashenko got 80.1% of the vote. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was second with 10.12%, she refused to recognize the election results and later participated in the creation of the Coordination Council of the Belarusian opposition.

Immediately after exit poll results were announced, mass protest rallies erupted in the country which in the early days were accompanied by clashes between protesters and law enforcement forces. The opposition is urging to continue the protests, while the authorities state the necessity to stop the unauthorized rallies.

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