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Thousands Rally To Free Belarusian Political Prisoners

Jailed opposition leader Alyaksandr Kazulin (file photo) (epa) September 16, 2006 -- Several thousand opposition supporters rallied in Belarus today against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's government and to demand the release of political prisoners.

Police were deployed around the officially sanctioned site of the rally in central Minsk but did not intervene. However, about 10 activists who attempted to stage an improvised march across town were detained.

Lukashenka -- who has ruled Belarus since 1994 -- won another five-year term in a March vote that the opposition and Western officials denounced as fraudulent.

Demonstrators held signs reading: "Freedom to Political Prisoners!" and "Solidarity."

They urged authorities to free an opposition presidential candidate, Alyaksandr Kazulin, as well as jailed election observers and activists who campaigned against Lukashenka in the run-up to the presidential election.

(AP, Reuters)

Election Day In Images

Election Day In Images

Click on the image to view a photo gallery of election-day events in Belarus.

THE BELARUS ELECTION: To view a complete archive of RFE/RL's coverage of the March 19 presidential election, click here.

To read and listen to RFE/RL's Belarus Service's coverage of the vote in Belarusian, click here.