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Belarus: Opposition Leaders Unite Against Lukashenka

Minsk, 3 May 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Five Belarusian opposition leaders say they have agreed to challenge authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in elections later this year by uniting behind the candidate with the best chance of beating him. In a statement today, the five said they have joined together to improve the chances of defeating Lukashenka.

The group includes former prime minister Mikhail Chyhir, Communist Party chief Syrhey Kalyakyn, trade union federation head Vladzimir Hancharyk, former Defense Minister Pavel Koslovsky, and former Hrodna Oblast Governor Syamyon Domash.

Each said they would try to register to be a presidential candidate, but would withdraw if one of them emerges with a better chance of winning.

They said their goal is to "remove Belarus from its international isolation" by defeating Lukashenka in elections that must be held before September 27.