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UN Monitor Says Belarus Close To Dictatorship

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (file photo) 29 March 2005 -- A United Nations' human rights expert says Belarus is close to becoming a dictatorship.

Adrian Severin made the comment in a report to the UN Human Rights commission. He said he was particularly worried over steps that undermined the independence of the Belarusian judiciary and assaults on media freedom.

Severin also denounced the Belarusian government for barring him from traveling to Belarus to monitor the situation there on behalf of the Human Rights Commission.

Serhey Aleinik, Belarus' ambassador to the United Nations' European headquarters in Geneva, rejected Severin's report and demanded an apology.

The 53-nation Commission is currently halfway through its annual six-week session in Geneva.