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OSCE: Belarus Election Threatened By Climate Of Fear

23 June 2004 -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said today that Belarus has done little to create conditions necessary for ensuring free and fair parliamentary elections this October.

Uta Zapf, head of the OSCE working group for Belarus, said actions taken by authorities in Belarus have actually helped to "contribute to a climate of fear and self-censorship."

"We could see that there are more backward steps in certain areas, for instance vis-a-vis the freedom of the press, the access of the opposition parties to the state media and for instance in the electoral code," Zapf said.

Zapf said political life in Belarus has been drained of debate and that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his administration have a strong influence over the parliament.


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