Belarus leader ridicules US over Capitol protests

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko defended his country's ability to host this year's hockey world championships by ridiculing the United States following the violent attack at the Capitol.

The authoritarian leader met with International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel for talks amid calls to move the world championships following mass protests against Mr Lukashenko's rule.

He told Mr Fasel that the protests would not make it unsafe for Belarus to host the tournament, and compared his country with the United States, where supporters of President Donald Trump rioted at the Capitol last week.

"In our country, protesters and other dissatisfied people don't storm government agencies and capitols," Mr Lukashenko said.

"We have a completely normal situation from the perspective of the development of democratic processes."

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Cuban President Fidel Castro meets Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko in Havana, September 3, 2000. Lukashenko arrived in communist-ruled Cuba on a three-day official visit which will include talks with Castro and the signing of bilateral accords to strengthen ties between the two states, which are both resisting Western pressure to introduce political reforms. JS/ME
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko answers journalists questions after taking part in voting for the former Soviet republics controversial referendum in Minsk, November 24. Lukashenko has cancelled his half of a Russia-brokered political deal with the Belarussian Parliament, because deputies failed to approve it and is encouraging the electorate to take part voting for the referendum in which he hopes to significantly widen his powers .
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Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) speaks with his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko during their informal meeting in Minsk May 31, 2001. Belarus is hosting 12 former Soviet republics on Friday for the CIS Summit meeting. CVI
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Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko attend a wreath laying ceremony in Minsk December 14, 2007. The President of Belarus on Friday discounted suggestions that Russian leader Vladimir Putin could use talks on rejuvenating the notion of a merged post-Soviet state to create a power base after he steps down next year. REUTERS/RIA-Novosti/Kremlin (BELARUS)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attend a meeting in Minsk, Belarus, February 1, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Pool
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Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (R) and Ukraine's Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko talk as they meet in Kiev, November 5, 2009. Lukashenko began his first visit to Ukraine in five years. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich (UKRAINE POLITICS)
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (R) shakes hands with Ukraine's Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko as they meet in Kiev, November 5, 2009. Lukashenko began his first visit to Ukraine in five years. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich (UKRAINE POLITICS)
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Presidents Vladimir Putin (L) of Russia and Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus speak during an ice hockey game at the Shayba Arena in Sochi, Russia February 15, 2019. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping (L) and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko (R) meet for talks in Minsk, March 24, 2010. REUTERS/Maxim Guchek/Belta (BELARUS - Tags: POLITICS)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko (L) smile during an agreement signing ceremony at Miraflores Palace in Caracas March 17, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins (VENEZUELA - Tags: POLITICS)
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko uses a handkerchief during a commemoration ceremony, which marks the anniversary of the nuclear disaster, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine, April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko (R) shakes hands with his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales during a meeting in Minsk, September 4, 2013. REUTERS/Gennady Semyonov/BelTA/Handout via Reuters (BELARUS - Tags: POLITICS) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko (R) welcomes Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) and France's President Francois Hollande during a meeting in Minsk, February 11, 2015. The leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine were due to attend a peace summit on Wednesday, but Ukraine's pro-Moscow separatists diminished the chance of a deal by launching some of the war's worst fighting in an assault on a government garrison. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor (BELARUS - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko (R) welcomes Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) and France's President Francois Hollande during a meeting in Minsk, February 11, 2015. The leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine were due to attend a peace summit on Wednesday, but Ukraine's pro-Moscow separatists diminished the chance of a deal by launching some of the war's worst fighting in an assault on a government garrison. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (BELARUS - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko (R) and French actor Gerard Depardieu carry scythes as they walk at the Ozerny presidential residence outside Minsk, Belarus, July 22, 2015. Picture taken July 22, 2015. REUTERS/Andrei Stasevich/BelTA/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko (R) shakes hands with his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic during a welcoming ceremony in Minsk, Belarus, November 19, 2015. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
Presidents of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko (R) and Belarus Alexander Lukashenko attend a commemoration ceremony, which marks the anniversary of the nuclear disaster, near a New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure over the old sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine, April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko (R) enjoy mountain skiing at the Gazprom Mountain Resort (Laura) in the Black sea resort of Sochi, Russia February 13, 2019. Sergei Chirikov/Pool via REUTERS
Belarusian law enforcement officers stand guard during a rally of opposition supporters following the presidential election in Minsk, Belarus August 10, 2020. The opposition rejected official election results handing President Alexander Lukashenko a landslide re-election victory. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
People take part in a protest against the presidential election results demanding the resignation of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and the release of political prisoners, in Minsk, Belarus August 16, 2020. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
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Belarus is scheduled to co-host the world championships with Latvia in May and June, but the opposition in the country has called for a boycott and the Latvian government has said it wants Belarus to be replaced.

At his meeting with Mr Fasel, Mr Lukashenko embraced his guest and also offered to host the entire tournament without Latvia and said it would be "the best world championship in history".

Mass protests swept Belarus, a former Soviet nation of 9.5 million people, after official results from the presidential election on August 9 gave Mr Lukashenko a landslide victory over his widely popular opponent, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

She and her supporters refused to recognise the result, saying the vote was riddled with fraud.

Authorities have cracked down hard on the largely peaceful demonstrations, the biggest of which attracted up to 200,000 people.

Mr Lukashenko has been president of the Belarus Olympic Committee since the 1990s and Mr Fasel is an IOC member who previously sat on the executive committee.

The IOC suspended Mr Lukashenko from all Olympic activities last month, including this year's Tokyo Games, saying that the country's Olympic body had not protected athletes facing discrimination for their political views.

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