Daniel Fried (file photo) (official site)
8 February 2006 -- A senior American diplomat says the United States does not expect Belarus's upcoming presidential election to be free or fair due to the current circumstances in the country.
Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Daniel Fried said, however, that the United States could not, under any circumstances, support street violence in response to a flawed election on 19 March.
Fried is quoted by The Associated Press as telling reporters in Washington on 7 February that the U.S. Congress has provided more than $21 million to finance pro-democracy activities in Belarus. No information was available on how this money may have been spent.
Fried said the United States does not support the continued rule of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, but is not officially supporting any candidate.
The Lukashenka regime is accused by Western countries of cracking down on opponents, muzzling independent media, and rigging elections.