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Belarus Orders Closure Of OSCE Office In Minsk

Men walk after being released from a detention center in Minsk more than a week after their detention during election-related protests.
Belarus says it has decided to order the closure of operations by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) office in Minsk.

The announcement was made by Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh, who explained that the OSCE mission's mandate "had been fulfilled."

The announcement comes after monitors of Europe's top rights watchdog said Belarus's December 19 presidential election showed that the country is still "a considerable way" from holding democratic vote.

The OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, also condemned detentions and assaults of journalists in Minsk following the election as "unacceptable."

A postelection clampdown on presidential challengers and critics of the vote has resulted in many hundreds of arrests, including of presidential candidates in the vote.

compiled from agency reports