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Belarusian Opposition Leader To Seek EU Backing

Milinkevich at Warsaw press conference on March 30 (RFE/RL) March 31, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Belarusian opposition leader Alyaksandr Milinkevic is due to travel to Vienna next week to seek further European Union pressure on President Alyaksandr Lukashenka following disputed presidential elections.

Milinkevich will meet on Arpil 3 with Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel of Austria, the current holder of the rotating EU presidency. Milinkevich is also expected to meet Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik.

The EU has backed the Belarusian opposition, saying that the March 19 election of Lukashenka to a third term in office was fraudulent. It has also threatened sanctions against Belarusian officials.

In Minsk, rights groups say some 80 people who were jailed over protests against the election were released today. Hundreds of people were detained during the rallies and sentenced to up to 15 days in prison.

Milinkevich's team said it was investigating reports a protester beaten up by riot police had died.

(with material from Reuters)

The EU Watches Minsk

The EU Watches Minsk

Belarusian students studying at an EU-funded university in Vilnius, Lithuania

WATCHING AND WAITING: The European Union repeatedly urged Minsk to conduct a fair and democratic presidential election on March 19. The EU external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said in a statement today that the recent arrests of Belarusian opposition figures are "unacceptable" campaign violations. Ferrero-Waldner repeated an EU threat of "targeted sanctions" against top Belarusian officials if the elections are not free and fair. However, the EU will withhold final judgment until March 20, when the bloc's foreign ministers meet in Brussels....(more)

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Belarus: EU Bolsters Support For Opposition Ahead Of Vote

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.

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