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Belarus: Opposition Urges West To Impose Sanctions

Minsk, 14 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Belarus's opposition parties stepped up their campaign against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka today, urging the West to impose economic and political sanctions and backing union calls for national protests. Recently, Belarusian salt miners and former presidential candidate Uladzimir Hancharyk called for strikes and demonstrations against Lukashenka.

In a letter to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the United Civil Party said that Lukashenka had repressed the opposition movement since his re-election last year. The small but vocal party urged action by the West, including political and economic sanctions against Belarus.

The Popular Front, a second major opposition group, urged Belarusians to support the salt miners, who last week called for a national strike against Lukashenka.

Lukashenka's re-election last September was criticized by the West for failing to meet democratic standards.

Since then he has launched a number of criminal cases against several top businessmen and political opponents.