The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, has expressed his deep concern at the continuing arrests, detentions and arbitrary court trials of political and civil society activists following the 19 March presidential election in Belarus.
Lidiya Yermoshina, chairwoman of Belarus` central election commission, called the recent presidential election "absolutely brilliant." At a news conference on Thursday, Ms. Yermoshina accused unspecified presidential candidates of creating "artificial and unreasoned" tensions during the race.
Belarus` central election commission voted unanimously on Thursday to reject a demand by opposition candidates and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to invalidate the results of the March 14-19 presidential election.
Assailants attacked an aide to the opposition leader in Belarus on Thursday after state TV broadcast a recording of an alleged conversation in which he consulted with a Polish NGO on protest strategies, an opposition spokesman said. The vote has been denounced by his domestic opponents and Western critics as deeply undemocratic. Belarusian election officials have rejected formal opposition complaints challenging the vote.
Georgia`s Foreign Ministry Thursday issued a statement condemning last weekend`s presidential elections in Belarus as undemocratic. "International monitors from the OSCE and other democratic organizations were unanimous in their assessment of the elections as undemocratic," the ministry said. "They said the elections were not free and fair, and were accompanied by bullying of opposition candidates and their supporters; that the media was biased, and mass rigging was reported at polling stations."
Sirya`s President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday sent a congratulations cable to Belarus President Aleksander Lukashenko on his re-election as president of Belarus. The President expressed his “heartfelt on the trust the Belarusian people have granted him,” wishing him success as well as the Belarusian peoples more prosperity under the leadership of President Lukashenko. President Assad expressed confidence that relations of friendship and cooperation between Syria and Belarus will be stronger in the interest of the two countries.
A United Nations rights envoy on Thursday called for the release of demonstrators arrested after a weekend presidential election in Belarus that international observers have rejected as unfair. Adrian Severin, the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights of Belarus, said that more than 100 people protesting Alexander Lukashenko`s runaway victory were detained and many others were blocked from joining demonstrations.
The final official results of Belarus` March 14-19 presidential election will be announced by the central election commission at its session scheduled to start at 11 a.m. on March 23, Nikolai Lozovik, secretary of the commission, told BelaPAN.
The most popular paper in Belarus splashes huge photos across its front page of protests -- in France. The only mention of the unusual, days-long protests in Minsk is on an inside page in a couple of sneering letters. Belarus` state-controlled media are not entirely ignoring the protests, but portraying them as inconsequential or repulsive, and the near-absence of free news media in Belarus could play a key role in keeping the protests small.
The presidential election in Belarus proceeded similarly to the polls held during the Soviet Union times, an Azeri parliament member has said. "The elections were held in a quiet environment resembling the Soviet era," said MP Elman Mammadov, who monitored the polling in this tightly-controlled former USSR republic.
Several dozens of Zubr activists spent yesterday in Kastrychnitskaya square in Minsk. They will stay there for the whole night. Zube activists unrolled 10 meter long banner with slogan “Freedom to political prisoners”. As a sign of solidarity with themjeans bands are tied to tents, cloths of opposition activists. Jeans flags are waving over the square.
Inga made a stack of pancakes, packed them in her bag, and sped to a tent camp in the city center, eager to provide homemade food to opposition activists. But her plans were cut short by beefy police officers who intercepted the 19-year-old student, locked her in a detention cell, and force-fed her all the food she had prepared.
The ICFTU and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) have today made representations to the European Union, following the arrest of eight trade union officials in recent days by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. The trade unionists were arrested in the lead-up to Sunday`s rigged elections in which Lukashenko claimed over 82% of the vote. The ICFTU understands that the fines and detentions were imposed on those arrested by judicial authorities following explicit instructions from the regime. The elections have been widely condemned, including by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe as neither free nor fair.
Aleksandr Milinkevich called on all those who hold dear Belarus and democratic values to gather on Minsk’s Oktyabrskaya Square at noon on March 25 to celebrate the 88th anniversary of the Belarusian National Republic, the country’s first, brief independence from Russia in 1918.
The leader of the Belarusian opposition urged solidarity in the face of a growing crackdown on government critics protesting the disputed re-election of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. ``We must defend one another,`` Alexander Milinkevich told demonstrators Wednesday amid arrests and harassment targeting protesters gathered day and night on a freezing downtown square to push for a new vote without Lukashenko, whose 12-year-rule has been denounced in the West as Europe`s last dictatorship.
Some 10 opposition supporters were arrested in Vitebsk 15 minutes into Tuesday’s demonstration against the official outcome of the March 14-19 presidential election criticized by OSCE observers as fraudulent. Rallies in support of demonstrators in Minsk began in Vitebsk late on March 19.
The government of Belarus should stop detaining demonstrators peacefully protesting the results of Sunday`s election, and uphold their right to do so, Human Rights Watch said today. According to official sources, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenka garnered more than 80 percent of the vote in that election, though many have questioned its fairness.
Belarusian opposition leader Alyaksandr Milinkevich, who ran for president on Sunday, cannot accept the invitation by Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda and the European People´s Party (EPP) to attend the upcoming EPP summit, EP sources told CTK today. The sources said that Milinkevich believes he should remain in Belarus these turbulent days, when the opposition is planning further demonstrations against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, who was re-elected president.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus will not congratulate his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko on re-election as president, Presidential Office spokesman Petr Hajek said today. According to Klaus, the course of the presidential elections on Sunday confirmed his fears for democracy in Belarus. Klaus expressed his concern in a letter to Lukashenko last year but he has not yet received an answer from him, Hajek said.
By midnight, as the temperature dropped ever lower and dawn was still five hours off, one core of Belarus`s public opposition assumed its shape in the darkness. It was about 300 people, arms interlocked to form a small, dense square, stomping on the frozen ground under a police cadre`s contemptuous gaze. Behind them, inside their human box, another group of demonstrators held their banned flags overhead, a thicket of banners over 20 small tents.