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The European Union does not recognise the outcome of the presidential election in Belarus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at an emergency summit on Wednesday, while European Council President Charles Michel added that the EU will impose sanctions on those who were involved in electoral fraud and the repression of protests.

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"There is no doubt that there were massive rule violations in the election," Merkel told reporters in Berlin after an emergency video summit with EU leaders. "The election was neither free nor fair. And that's why the result of the election cannot be recognised." She added: "We stand with the peaceful demonstrators."

"The EU will impose shortly sanctions on a substantial number of individuals responsible for violence, repression and election fraud," Michel added.

President Alexander Lukashenko, who has run Belarus for 26 years, is facing massive protests after winning 80% of the vote in elections that some sectors of the population believe were rigged.

Western officials are trying to head off an escalation along the lines of the crisis in Ukraine six years ago, when a violent crackdown by a pro-Russian leader led to his downfall in a popular uprising, followed by a Russian military intervention and Europe's deadliest ongoing conflict.

"Violence has to stop and a peaceful and inclusive dialogue has to be launched. The leadership of #Belarus must reflect the will of the people," Michel, the EU summit chairman, wrote in a tweet announcing the start of the video summit, adding that he had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Macron calls for calm and dialogue

Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron also spoke to Putin ahead of the EU summit, in light of Russia's close economic and military ties to Belarus.

Merkel told Putin that authorities in Minsk must &quRead More – Source