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Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka at the UN, September 2005 (RFE/RL)
11 January 2006 -- A United Nations official has said that the human rights situation in Belarus is deteriorating ahead of the country's presidential election in March.
Adrian Severin, the UN human rights rapporteur on Belarus, said that Belarus is a "place where human rights are not only violated or threatened, they are in a worse and worse situation every year".
He believes the country is moving toward a "more and more totalitarian system," listing several examples of a fresh crackdown on the opposition, including a new law that makes it a crime to voice criticism of the government.
Severin made the comments in Brussels on 11 January after meeting with the European Union's top human rights expert, Michael Matthiessen. Both men have been denied visas to visit Belarus.
Severin is due to present a new report on Belarus to the UN Human Rights Commission in March.