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Statement by Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
October 5, 2000

BELARUS: Deputy Secretary Talbott's Meeting with Belarusian Opposition Leader Andrei Sannikov

Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott met October 3 with Andrei Sannikov, Belarusian opposition leader and former Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus. Ambassador Sannikov resigned his position as Deputy Foreign Minister in 1996 in protest against the illegal constitutional referendum held by Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko. Currently, Ambassador Sannikov is the international coordinator of Charter 97, a Belarusian human rights NGO that is one of the leading forces in the boycott of the Belarusian elections planned for October 15.

The Deputy Secretary and Ambassador Sannikov discussed the upcoming Belarusian elections. Both agreed that there is little hope that these elections will be truly free, fair and transparent. They noted that the Belarusian authorities have made no real progress on the implementation of the conditions set by the international community for the observation of the elections.

As these conditions have not been met, the United States opposes sending observers to monitor the October 15 elections, which would lend legitimacy to a fundamentally flawed election process. The technical assessment by the OSCE's Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights should not be construed as election observation. The United States will not recognize the outcome of elections in Belarus which are not democratic.

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