MINSK -- The Belarusian Central Election Commission has rejected documents filed by the initiative group for prominent opposition leader Mikalay Statkevich to nominate him as a presidential candidate for balloting scheduled for August 9.
The commission said its May 19 decision was determined by Statkevich's "criminal record."
Statkevich ran against authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the 2010 presidential election.
Lukashenka, in office since 1994, was reelected in a vote that his critics say was rigged.
Statkevich was arrested after attending a large demonstration protesting the election results, and spent five years in prison after being convicted of organizing riots at a trial criticized by human rights groups and Western governments as unfair.
After his release, Statkevich was sentenced many times to short several-day jail terms for taking part in and organizing anti-government rallies.
Overall, initiative groups for 55 potential candidates have compiled and submitted documents to the Central Election Commission. So far, the commission has rejected 10 of them.
On May 15, the commission officially registered initiative groups for Lukashenka and the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, Aleh Haydukevich.