As evidence emerged of horrific and systematic torture in Belarusian jails since the disputed presidential election of August 9, opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya appeared by video link to members of the European Parliament on Tuesday.

She said that the opposition to Alexander Lukashenko, who stole the election by claiming 80 percent of the popular vote, won’t work. “The intimidation didn’t work. We will not relent. We demand to respect our basic rights. We demand all political prisoners be free.”

So far there have been six deaths in police custody. Political detainees, male and female, have been systematically raped with truncheons and beaten repeatedly on the lower back to make them urinate or defecate. Many released detainees have been too afraid to seek medical treatment. Human rights activists have managed to collect evidence of torture from almost 500 prisoners who were “beaten, humiliated and tortured by law enforcement personnel” in police stations and jails. In some cases, dozens of detainee were packed into cells designed for two inmates.

One MEP, the far-left Manu Pineda, who represents a Spanish left-wing grouping in the Parliament, took the opportunity to fiercely criticise Mrs Tikhanovskaya, proclaiming: “Mrs Tsikhanouskaya, you know the pressure the EU can bring to bear. We’ve seen it in Venezuela.

“Are you prepared to ensure sanctions against your people because they didn’t vote for you?

“As president, are you looking for a bloodbath, as took place in Ukraine?

“Are you prepared for the people of Belarus to pay with blood, pain and suffering for the fate that they didn’t elect you as president? Because this is what this is all about.” He went on to suggest that European Union countries were preparing for a land invasion of Belarus.

“The point here is to try to bring NATO tanks and bombs to the Russian border. If there is interference from Russia, it is legitimate because it has been requested by the government of Belarus,” he said.

However, his remarks did not represent the majority of MEPs, who responded to Mrs Tikhanovskaya with a round of applause at the end of her address.

PHOTO: Extreme left-wing MEP Manu Pineda