Visegrad group presidents call on Belarus to stop violence, back free elections: joint statement

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The presidents of the Visegrad Group including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia called on Belarus on Wednesday to avoid violence against protesters and open the way for a political solution to the ongoing crisis.

“(We) call on the authorities of the Republic of Belarus to open the way for the political solution, and to abide by the fundamental human rights and freedoms while refraining from the use of violence against the peaceful demonstrators,” the presidents said in a joint statement.

“ the right of the people of Belarus to free, fair and democratic presidential elections,” it said.

(This story corrects after Czech presidential office removed reference to new election)

Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Toby Chopra