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Belarusian Opposition Activists Leave For Canada, U.S.

Yaraslau Ramanchuk
Yaraslau Ramanchuk
MINSK -- Leading members of the Belarusian opposition -- including a presidential hopeful -- left today for a visit to Canada and the United States, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Yaraslau Ramanchuk, the presidential hopeful of the United Civic Party, is accompanied by two other top party representatives -- Anatol Lyabedzka and Andrey Dzmitryeu, as well as civic activist Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu, whose "Tell the Truth" campaign has encouraged Belarusians to speak out about a range of social ills.

Ramanchuk told RFE/RL before leaving Minsk that he and his colleagues will visit Canada at the invitation of a group of Canadian parliament members.

He said they plan to meet with parliamentarians, government officials, and businessmen. He added that the Belarusian politicians are scheduled to speak on Canadian television.

It is expected that Canadian Premier Stephen Harper will hold talks with the Belarusian opposition leaders.

In the United States, similar meetings are scheduled in the U.S. State Department.

After returning home, the activists plan to present the party's election program in the cities of Bobruisk and Mahileu.

According to the Belarusian constitution, a presidential election is due before the end of February 2011, but no date has yet been set.

Aside from Ramanchuk, several other opposition politicians have announced their intentions to challenge incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka, including Alyaksandr Milinkevich, the leader of the main opposition For Freedom movement, and Ryhor Kastuseu of the Belarusian National Front.