Putin tells Merkel external intervention in Belarus would be unacceptable

German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin as he arrives for the Libya summit in Berlin, Germany, January 19, 2020. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that any attempts to interfere in the domestic affairs of Belarus would be unacceptable, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

Any such attempts would lead to an escalation of the political crisis in Belarus, Putin told Merkel in a phone call, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Alexander Lukashenko, the leader of Belarus, on Tuesday awarded medals “for impeccable service” to law enforcement officials who have helped him crack down on protesters who have been demanding he step down for the last 10 days.

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Andrew Osborn