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Saakashvili Urges Support For Belarus Opposition

Mikheil Saakashvili (file photo) (AFP) PRAGUE, March 17, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has called on the European Union to stand behind Belarus' opposition in the country's March 19 presidential election.

Saakashvili, writing in the "International Herald Tribune" newspaper, said he expects the election to be "a mass exercise in ballot fixing."

He said Europe's reaction will "test the continent's resolve to rid itself of dictatorship."

Former Czech and Polish presidents Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa have also urged the world to give its full support to the opposition.

Saakashvili also urged the EU to impose stricter economic and political sanctions on the government of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who is running for a third term in the election.

The Belarusian KGB on March 16 said protests would be viewed as terrorism.

(with material from Reuters, 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.

Click on the image to view RFE/RL's coverage of the election campaign in Belarusian and to listen to RFE/RL's Belarusian Service.