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Milinkevich Urges EU Visa Ban For Belarus Officials


Opposition leader Alyaksandr Milinkevich (center) was among those holding a candlelight vigil in Minsk on December 21 for postelection detainees.
BRUSSELS -- Leading Belarusian opposition figure Alyaksandr Milinkevich has urged the European Union to reimpose visa bans on top Belarusian officials in response to the crackdown on activists and political leaders following last month's presidential election.

But Milinkevich -- a presidential candidate in a previous election -- said the EU should also make it easier for ordinary Belarusians to travel there.

Milinkevich made the comments to RFE/RL in Brussels, where he is due to attend a special European parliamentary committee meeting on Belarus on January 12.

The EU imposed visa sanctions on President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and other top officials after a disputed ballot in 2006, but mostly suspended the ban in 2008 after Minsk released senior imprisoned political leaders.

Belarus's Interior Ministry meanwhile said authorities have charged 31 people with organizing post-vote protests. The ministry said the involvement of the 31 people was established via video footage.

In a statement, Belarusian authorities also said police had identified 120 people who "actively participated in mass disturbances on December 19."
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