Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

European Parliament president calls for immediate release of Belarus' political prisoners

The new president of the European Parliament has urged the Belarusian authorities to immediately grant unconditional release to the country's political prisoners.

"The political situation in Belarus is simply unacceptable. President Lukashenka is an autocrat, who represses the Belarus people, denying them the right to freedom and democracy", Martin Schulz, a German politician who was elected as European Parliament president earlier this month, said in an interview with BelaPAN on January 24.

The politician expressed anger at "numerous arrests of opposition activists, students, teachers and journalists as well as the use of brutal force against peaceful demonstrators". He condemned the Belarusian government's crackdown on free media and independent NGOs.

"I sincerely hope that Belarus will enter the path of democracy and freedom one day. If this happens, the European Union will be ready to offer Belarus closer ties under Eastern Partnership", Mr. Schulz said.

"I fully support sanctions against members of Belarus oppressive regime, but I am against sanction that would affect the Belarus people", the politician added.