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Georgian MPs Detained At Minsk Airport

Belarusian KGB Chairman Stsyapan Sukharenka (left), Prosecutor-General Pyotar Miklashevich (center), and Minister of Internal Affairs Uladzimir Navumau (right) at a press conference in Minsk today (RFE/RL) TBILISI, March 16, 2006 (RFE/RL) - Georgian officials today said at least seven members of Georgia's parliament had been denied entry into Belarus and detained at Minsk airport.

The lawmakers were due to monitor the March 19 presidential election in Belarus.

Mikheil Machavariani, the deputy speaker of Georgia's parliament, told RFE/RL’s Georgian Service the lawmakers were being interrogated by Belarusian security officers.

"We’re having some problems now, as the Belarusian [KGB] posted on its website information that one of [our] MPs, [Kakha] Getsadze -- this is purely imaginary -- was planning a coup, or something like that,” Machavariani said.

There was no immediate confirmation from Belarusian authorities, which earlier this week said they would not allow Georgian observers monitor the upcoming polls.

Incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has accused Georgia and other countries of sponsoring his opponents. Belarusian KGB Chairman Stsyapan Sukharenka today described Georgia as a training ground for alleged "terrorists" seeking to oust Lukashenka's government.

To sustain his claims, Sukharenka displayed on television an alleged plotter who admitted to undergoing terrorist training in a Georgian camp along with Arabs and U.S. agents.

In Tbilisi today, President Mikheil Saakashvili said the Georgian flag had become the "symbol of freedom" in Belarus. He was referring to the reported arrest of a Belarusian opposition supporter who was detained while waving a Georgian flag.

(with additional material from Belapan, Rustavi-2, Novosti-Gruziya, Imedi TV, AFP)

Belarus Votes 2006

Belarus Votes 2006

Click on the image to view a dedicated page with news, analysis, and background information about the Belarusian presidential ballot.

MEET THE CANDIDATES: Read brief biographies of the four candidates in the March 19 election.

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