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Pressure on Belarusian leadership is counterproductive, Russia's Putin tells EU's Michel

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin told European Council President Charles Michel that any pressure on the Belarusian leadership or external interference in the country’s domestic affairs was counterproductive in a phone call on Thursday, the Kremlin said.

The two sides agreed that an early normalisation of the situation in Belarus suited the interests of both Russia and the European Union, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Belarusian authorities launched a criminal case against a new opposition body earlier on Thursday, accusing it of an illegal attempt to seize power, a day after leader Alexander Lukashenko threatened to sweep the streets of protesters who reject his re-election.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Toby Chopra

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