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Belarus: Belarus Criticizes Opposition Leaders for Seeking U.S. Asylum

Minsk, July 31 (RFE/RL) -- An aide to Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says two opposition leaders who are seeking political asylum in the United States are trying to destabilize Belarus.

The aide, Oleg Sluka, said the two leaders were trying to divide Belarus society and "raise tension" between Minsk and Washington.

The Belarus government had not yet received official confirmation from the United States that the two men were seeking asylum, he said.

The head of the Belarus Popular Front, Zenon Pozniak, and the party's press secretary, Sergei Naomshik, announced at a news conference in Washington late yesterday that they had asked for asylum in the United States. They said they feared their lives were endangered by the Lukashenka government.

President Lukashenka has responded to anti-government demonstrations with a wave of arrests and a clampdown on the media.

The deputy leader of the Popular Front, Yuri Khaduko, told the Associated Press he was surprised by Poznyak and Naomshik's decision to ask for asylum. He said it was probably caused by their financial situation.