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Sergei Lavrov (file photo) (epa) March 24, 2006 -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today accused the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) of instigating tensions over the March 19 presidential election in Belarus.

Lavrov said the OSCE played an "inflammatory role" by announcing long before the March 19 vote that it would not be legitimate. He said the OSCE had made "biased" comments on the course of the election and its results.

The OSCE said the election, which gave President Alyaksandr Lukashenka a third term, did not meet international standards for a free and fair vote.

Russia has backed Lukashenka, who has been denounced by many Western governments for his crackdown on the opposition and the independent media.

(compiled from agency reports)
Minsk, March 24

THE POLICE MOVE IN: RFE/RL's Belarus Service filed these images from October Square in the early morning hours of March 24. All photographs were taken by Yuliya Darashkevich.






SEE FOR YOURSELF: View a short video clip taken on October Square on the morning of March 21:
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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 Belarusian Service.