The president of Lithuania said his embattled counterpart in Belarus is no longer the legitimate leader and time is running out for him to agree to dialogue with his opponents, according to Sky News.
Gitanas Nauseda – who has offered to act as a mediator along with the presidents of Latvia, Estonia and Poland – said there cannot be normal relations with their neighbour until free elections are allowed to take place.
In an interview with Sky News, he also warned the rest of Europe that if they ignore the crisis in Belarus, triggered by Alexander Lukashenko claiming a sixth term in office in an election last Sunday, the country would likely become a “satellite state” of Russia.
“I think we cannot call Mr Lukashenko legitimate because there were no free, democratic elections in Belarus,” said the Lithuanian leader, speaking on Thursday at the presidential palace in the capital Vilnius.
He added that an “absolutely necessary pre-condition to have normal relations with Belarus is free elections and a logical result of those elections”.
Lithuania has been a leading voice in opposing the election and condemning days of violence by Belarusian police and security services against demonstrators, railing against the outcome.
A second protester has died in the unrest. Hundreds of people have been injured and thousands detained.