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Belarus To Bar EU, U.S. Officials

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (file photo) (epa) April 10, 2006 -- The Belarusian Foreign Ministry today responded to the European Union's visa ban on 31 Belarusian officials, saying it will impose similar restrictions on EU and U.S. officials.

Earlier, EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg imposed a visa ban in response to what Brussels says were Belarus's rigged presidential elections in March and a subsequent crackdown on opposition activists.

The ban prohibits President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who won a third term in office, and 30 other officials from traveling to any of the 25 EU states.

Lukashenka won a third term in the March election, claiming 83 percent of the vote. His nearest rival, opposition candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich, took just 6 percent.

(compiled from agency reports)

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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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.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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