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Belarus: Independent Newspaper Confiscated, Publisher Detained

Minsk, 18 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - The Moscow-based Glasnost Defense Foundation says 200,000 copies of an independent Belarusian newspaper were confiscated by Belarusian border guards Friday night.

The issue of "Nasha Niva" was a special edition compiling foreign and local press reports about the policies of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Our correspondent in Minsk reports that the newspaper's publisher, Pavel Zhuk, also was detained by border guards. Zhuk had been accompanying the shipment from its printer in Vilnius. He is a candidate in Belarus' November 24 parliamentary elections.

The Glasnost Defense Foundation says Belarusian customs officials had been ordered several days ago to confiscate all publications that are critical of Lukashenka.

Last year, Lukashenka ordered state printing houses to stop publishing "Nasha Niva." The move forced the paper to contract a printer in Vilnius.

Meanwhile Saturday, our correspondent in Minsk says authorities blocked Electoral Commission chief Viktor Hanchar from entering his office. Hanchar was removed from his office Friday by police after being fired by Lukashenka.

Hanchar has said he would not validate the outcome of a constitutional referendum called by Lukashenka in an attempt to strengthen presidential powers.