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Canada, U.S., EU and Britain are discussing sanctions against Belarus: Ottawa

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada, the United States, the European Union and Britain are discussing possible sanctions against Belarus over its crackdown against protests following a disputed election, a Canadian source directly familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

If sanctions were imposed, they would come “in the not too distant future”, said the source, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.

Protests erupted after an Aug. 9 election that the opposition says was rigged to prolong President Alexander Lukashenko’s 26-year rule. Lukashenko denies electoral fraud and has shown no sign of backing down.

U.N. human rights investigators say they have received reports of hundreds of cases of torture, beatings and mistreatment of anti-government protesters by police.

“There have been a number of things that have happened since the election that are reprehensible,” said the Canadian source.

“We’ve made it clear the situation cannot stand and that’s precisely the reason we are looking, with other partners, at some sort of sanctions we could put in place.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that Washington and European partners were reviewing imposing targeted punitive measures against anyone involved in human rights abuses in Belarus.

Reporting by David Ljunggren, Editing by Franklin Paul and Alistair Bell

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