Two main opposition parties in Belarus are calling for a boycott of upcoming parliamentary elections on September 23, denouncing the vote as a farce and urging people to "go fishing or visit your parents" instead.
The opposition United Civic Union and the Belarusian National Front also withdrew their candidates, saying the elections cannot be democratic as long as opposition activists remain jailed.
Human rights groups say about 15 political prisoners remain jailed out of scores who were imprisoned after the December 2010 presidential election.
Mikalay Lozovik, of Belarus's Central Election Commission, criticized the boycott, saying on September 17 that the decision shows "disrespect for voters" and represents a "travesty of law."
Belarus's political system is strictly controlled by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
International monitors routinely condemn the country's elections as unfair.
Based on reporting by Reuters, ITAR-TASS, Interfax, and AP