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Belarus Opposition Leader Warns Of Civil Unrest

Alyaksander Milinkevich, the united opposition candidate in Belarus (file photo) (RFE/RL) 25 January 2006 -- Belarusian united opposition candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich today warned of civil unrest should the upcoming presidential election be subject to electoral fraud.

Addressing the Polish parliament, Milinkevich said election fraud on 19 March would push "people to go out on the streets; not for a piece of bread, but to defend their rights."

Milinkevich said severe limits are being imposed on freedom of speech by the state-controlled media. He also claimed that forced Russification is underway in his country.

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who is seeking a third term, faces six registered opponents.


Syarhey Haydukevich

Syarhey Haydukevich

Syarhey Haydukevich, who was born in 1954 in Minsk, served in the Soviet Armed Forces in 1976-91, rising to the rank of colonel. From 1982 to 1984, he was a Soviet military adviser in Iraq. In 1992-94, Haydukevich was chairman of the government's committee for the social protection of employees of state security bodies, the Interior Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the Border Troops, and soldiers who participated in Soviet military operations abroad.

As the head of the Belarusian Liberal Democratic Party, he has been criticized by party members for his allegedly authoritarian practices and for the party's poor performances during recent parliamentary and presidential elections. In the 2001 presidential election, Haydukevich won 2.5 percent of the vote.

In June 2005, a Minsk court ordered opposition daily "Narodnaya volya," to pay 100 million rubles ($46,500) in damages to Haydukevich for defaming him in an article published in March. The article suggested that Haydukevich was involved in the illegal sale of Iraqi oil under quotas received from the regime of Saddam Hussein.

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