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Belarus: Opposition Boycott Achieves Partial Success

Minsk, 16 October 2000 (RFE/RL) - An opposition boycott of yesterday's parliamentary elections in Belarus appears to have succeeded in some cities, although the poll has been declared valid. The Central Electoral Commission said late last night that overall voter turnout was more than 60 percent. Fifty percent was required to validate the poll for the 110-seat lower parliament. The commission said 82 of 110 districts had a turnout of more than 50 percent, surpassing the necessary minimum quorum of 73 needed to seat a new parliament. But figures show turnout was too low in all constituencies in Brest, Vitebsk, Baranovichi, and Borisov for their votes to be valid.

The commission said there were no exact figures yet available on the turnout in the capital, Minsk, which includes 18 districts. Vintsuk Vechorka of the Belarussian Popular Front, the largest opposition party, claimed authorities did not give results on the turnout in Minsk because they want to "fake these figures."

He said the opposition does not believe the turnout exceeded 50 percent.

Most opposition parties boycotted the poll to protest what they say is the prosecution of opposition leaders, the lack of access to the state-run media and a biased election law.