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Belarus Rights Record Criticized At UN

Diplomats at a UN review of Belarus's rights record have urged authorities in Minsk to ensure free and fair elections and decried an "atmosphere of intimidation."

Envoys gathered at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on May 4 called on Belarus to release all political prisoners and to halt executions.

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, 60, has been in power for more than two decades and is considering another term after November elections.

The U.S. ambassador to the rights council, Keith Harper, urged Belarus to "amend its electoral laws to bring them in line with OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) recommendations."

Harper told the council that Minsk must "demonstrate respect for a democratic political process, freedom of association, and freedom of expression ahead of the 2015 presidential election."

Mikhail Khvostov, Belarus's representative to the UN in Geneva, insisted that much has been done to ensure that the elections will be conducted "calmly, honestly, transparently."

He said international observers were invited to the country to help ensure the elections are held in accordance with international standards.

Based on reporting by AFP