OSCE Asked To End Mission In Belarus

(RTTNews) - Belarus government has asked Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to end its operations in the country in apparent response to its criticism of the controversial presidential election.

Belarusian foreign ministry said on Friday that the decision had been taken because there were "no objective reasons for retaining" the OSCE's mission, as it has "fulfilled its mandate."

The 13-member OSCE office in capital Minsk has been functioning since 2003 to assist the Belarusian government with developing civil society and the economy.

Foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh did not refer to the presidential election, which the OSCE had monitored.

The OSCE monitors described the conduct of the election that sparked violent protests after fraud allegations as "very bad."

It may prove detrimental to the former Soviet Republic's chances of receiving EU economic aid.

Incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected for a fourth term with a landslide majority in the December 19 elections.

Declaration of the results followed violent anti-government protests in the capital with thousands of Opposition supporters taking to the streets alleging electoral fraud behind Lukashenko's victory.

Police and KGB agents detained more than 600 protesters, including presidential contestants.

On Thursday, four presidential candidates were charged with organizing riots during post-poll protests that turned violent.

The United States and the European Union reiterated their call for the immediate release of the presidential candidates and the demonstrators who have been taken into custody in the wake of the elections.

by RTT Staff Writer


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