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Two European Vote Monitors Denied Belarus Visas

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says two of its representatives have been denied entry to Belarus to monitor parliamentary elections.

The OSCE said on September 19 that Belarus had denied visas to two members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Marieluise Beck of Germany and Lithuania’s Emanuelis Zingeris, without an explanation.

The OSCE has fielded more than 300 observers to monitor the September 23 elections.

Leading opposition groups have called for a boycott of the vote, complaining about political prisoners and the opportunities for election fraud.

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has ruled Belarus since 1994, cracking down on dissent and independent media.

The country has become increasingly isolated since the crackdown on dissent after the 2010 presidential election, which handed Lukashenka a fourth term.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP