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Minsk Opposition Figure Jailed

Protesters on Minsk's October Square this morning (RFE/RL) MINSK, March 21, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- A Minsk district court today sentenced an opposition leader and aide to Alyaksandr Milinkevich to a 15-day administrative jail sentence, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

United Civic Party Chairman Anatol Lyabedzka was charged for participating in an unsanctioned rally. Lyabedzka was detained on March 20.

Belarus' BelaPAN news agency quotes rights campaigner Valyantsin Stefanovich as saying a number of opposition supporters received various jail sentences today.

Official results released by the Central Election Commission say opposition candidate Milinkevich came second in the March 19 presidential election, with 6 percent of the votes. The commission said Alyaksandr Lukashenka won reelection as president.

Milinkevich and his supporters say the election was rigged and are demanding that a new ballot take place.

Opposition supporters have been demonstrating on Minsk's October (Kastrychnitskaya )Square for the past three days.

(with additional material from BelaPAN)

See The Square

See The Square

The October Square demonstration on the morning of March 21 (RFE/RL)

MAKING A DIFFERENCE? Some 200 demonstrators remain in central Minsk following an overnight vigil on March 20-21 to protest official election results giving President Alyaksandr Lukashenka a third term in office. Opposition supporters braved the threat of police action to stage a second night of protests in the capital's October (Kastrychnitskaya) Square following the March 19 vote. Russia approved the election, but both the European Union and the United States said the ballot was neither free nor fair. The opposition is calling for a new vote. But it is uncertain what impact, if any, the public protest will have....(more)

SEE FOR YOURSELF: View a short video clip taken on October Square on the morning of March 21:
Real Audio Windows Media

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

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

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