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Belarusian Oppositionist Charged With Slander

9 December 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Belarus opposition leader Anatoly Lebedko says he has been charged with slandering President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and could face four years in jail.

Lebedko told the AFP news agency that the charges against him stem from a press conference in October during which the leader of the United Civic Party (Lebedko) presented evidence of alleged fraud during a recent referendum that effectively extended the term of Lukashenka. The October referendum scrapped a two-term limit for the office of president.

Although some 77 percent of Belarus voters approved the referendum, independent observers, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said it fell far short of democratic standards.