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Minsk Bans Four U.S. Senators From Travel To Belarus

12 August 2004 -- Authorities in Belarus said they have refused to issue visas to four U.S. senators, including former presidential candidate Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona).

Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh said the senators were advised to delay their visit, scheduled for later this month, until "after the end of election campaigns in Belarus and the United States."

Belarusian parliamentary elections are scheduled for October and U.S. presidential and national elections take place in November.

In a statement distributed by the U.S. Embassy in Minsk, McCain said he is disappointed but not surprised by the move of a country ruled by "a dictator so insecure that he views as a threat mere visits by elected officials."

McCain said that under the leadership of President Ayaksandr Lukashenka, the Belarusian government "has routinely harassed, arrested, and attacked democracy advocates."