Belarusians should have the 'freedoms they are demanding': Pompeo

Prague (AFP) –


Belarusians should be given "the freedoms that they are demanding", US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, urging authorities in the former Soviet republic not to harm protesters.

"We want the people of Belarus to have the freedoms that they are demanding, that they think are in their best interests," Pompeo said during a visit to Prague.

"We urge that the non-violent protesters be protected, not harmed. It's not in anyone's best interests to do that," Pompeo told reporters.

He was speaking alongside Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who called the events in Belarus "shocking" after a third night of protests following a disputed election in which President Alexander Lukashenko won a sixth term.

"I expect the EU not to resort to declarations but to take action, to take measures, because the Belarusians have the same right to freedom and democracy as we do," Pompeo said.

He was visiting Prague as part of a European tour that will also take him to Austria, Slovenia and Poland.

The agenda for the trip includes countering Chinese company Huawei's role in 5G network construction, as well as energy security and US troop deployments in the region.