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At Least 46 Detained In New Belarus Opposition Protest

20 October 2004 -- Belarusian police say at least 46 people were arrested during a second night of protests in Minsk against a referendum vote which has opened the way for President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to seek a third term in office.

Those reported arrested last night included opposition leaders Nikolai Statkevich, Pavel Severinets, and Anatoly Lebedko. Colleagues of Lebedko said he was severely beaten.

The demonstration included clashes between protesters and police, who said they were shutting down an unsanctioned rally.

According to electoral officials, 77 percent of voters on 17 October supported a referendum to scrap presidential term limits, clearing the way for Lukashenka -- who has ruled Belarus since 1994 -- to run for president again in 2006.

The opposition has denounced the results as fraudulent. Western observers said the poll fell far short of international democratic standards.


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