Two would-be opposition candidates in Belarus's October 11 presidential election say they have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Supporters of Belarusian economist Viktar Tsyareshchanka and of Belarusian Liberal Democratic Party Chairman Syarhey Haydukevich said on August 10 they had gathered the required 100,000 signatures.
Incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the country's authoritarian ruler since 1994 who is currently serving his fourth term, was the first to surpass the 100,000 barrier.
His supporters say they have gathered more than 500,000 signatures in support of his candidacy.
Several other would-be candidates are also trying to collect the necessary signatures before the August 21 deadline.
Social activist Tatsyana Karatkevich has 75,000 and Belarusian Patriotic Party head Mikalay Ulakhovich has 72,000.
The gathered signatures must undergo a lengthy process of scrutiny by election officials before the candidacies are certified.
Elections in Belarus are ordinarily strictly managed by the state.
The country's 2010 presidential election and the crackdown that followed it were denounced by the foreign ministers of Germany, Sweden, Poland, and the Czech Republic as "unfortunate steps backwards in the development of democratic governance" in Belarus.
With additional reporting by Interfax