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Opposition Supporters In Minsk Preparing To Stay Out All Night

Protesters gathered in the early evening and responding to calls from opposition leaders to stay all night, are preparing tents (RFE/RL) March 20, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 opposition supporters have gathered on a central Minsk square to demand that the outcome of the March 19 presidential vote be annulled, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Correspondents say opposition candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich has called upon protesters to remain on Kastrychnitskaya (October) Square all night. He also asked them to call friends and relatives on their mobile phones so that they bring warm clothes and hot tea.

As demonstrators began erecting small camping tents, police moved in and confiscated one. No violence was reported.

Protesters are chanting "Freedom," "Long Live Belarus!" "We Shall Win!" and Milinkevich’s name. Others are holding lit candles and waving flags adorned with the traditional red and white colors of Belarus.

A pro-opposition Belarusian website -- Khartiya '97 -- says RFE/RL's Belarus Service's programs are being broadcast live on the square.

The crowd voted a "declaration of the Belarusian people" that accuses incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka of falsifying the vote.

The Central Election Commission says Lukashenka won the election with nearly 83 percent of the votes. Milinkevich came second with an official six percent.

International observers have described the election as falling behind democratic standards.

Election Day In Images

Election Day In Images

Click on the image to view a photo gallery of election-day events in Belarus.

THE BELARUS ELECTION: To view a complete archive of RFE/RL's coverage of the March 19 presidential election, click here.

To read and listen to RFE/RL's Belarus Service's coverage of the vote in Belarusian, click here.