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Belarusian Party Branch Wants To Expel Presidential Candidate

Yaraslau Ramanchuk, candidate for president, who reportedly held a meeting with newly elected President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
KALINKAVICHY, Belarus -- A branch of the Belarusian opposition United Civic Party (AHP) says it wants presidential candidate Yaraslau Ramanchuk expelled from the party, RFE/RL’s Belarus Service reports.

Ramanchuk, an AHP deputy chairman, was one of nine opposition candidates who ran against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the election on December 19.

Party activists in the southeastern town of Kalinkavichy said they wanted Ramanchuk expelled because he had "betrayed the interests of the party and democracy" by holding a meeting with Lukashenka after the election.

Official results showing Lukashenka winning nearly 80 percent of the vote brought thousands of people onto the streets of Minsk on the evening after the election in protest at alleged fraud.

More than 600 people, including seven of the candidates -- but not Ramanchuk -- were arrested after police cracked down heavily on the demonstrators.

A nervous-looking Ramanchuk was shown by state television on December 20 reading from a piece of paper and saying that opposition candidates Andrey Sannikau, Mikolay Statkevich, and Vital Rymasheuski were responsible for the violence.

AHP activist Dzyanis Rabyanok told RFE/RL that party members held Lukashenka responsible for the "inhuman and illegal dispersal of the opposition activists' demonstration in Minsk."

Five of the seven opposition presidential candidates arrested on December 19 remain in custody.

Read more in Belarusian here