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Belarus Bars Western Officials

Ukrainians at a March 19 rally outside the Belarus Embassy in Kyiv rally in support of free and fair elections (epa) June 8, 2006 -- The Belarusian government said today officials from the European Union, the United States, and a range of other Western countries will no longer be able to enter the country.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Andrey Popov, said the sanctions were a response to a visa ban imposed by the EU, the United States, and other states on President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and another 30 Belarusian officials following Lukashenka's reelection in March.

Popov declined to reveal who was on the list but said it included "the most offensive political figures" who had spoken out against Belarus or sought to interfere in its internal affairs.

The Belarusian opposition, international observers and Western nations condemned the March 19 election as fraudulent.

(Reuters, Interfax)

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.