More Activists Detained As Belarus Eyes Inauguration Date

BERASTSE, Belarus -- More political activists have been detained in Belarus, as Minsk set a provisional date for the presidential inauguration following last month's disputed election, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Police in the western city of Berastse detained three activists today for holding an unsanctioned gathering in support of opposition leaders and their supporters arrested in Minsk.

Ivan Stasyuk, Yury Bakura, and Viktoryia Hryshanava were distributing copies of a brochure expressing solidarity with dozens of opposition activists in front of the Berastse Oblast Administration. Police took them to Berastse's Lenin district police department.

Several opposition presidential candidates and hundreds of their supporters were arrested in Belarus on December 19-20 after they protested the results of the presidential election, which they say was rigged.

Incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka was announced the runaway winner of the vote, which international election monitors said was flawed.

Belarusian Central Election Commission Secretary Mikalay Lazavik told RFE/RL today that Lukashenka's inauguration is provisionally scheduled for January 21. Under Belarusian law, the presidential inauguration must take place no later than two months after the election.

Four former presidential candidates -- Ales Mikhalevich, Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu, Andrey Sannikau, and Mikalay Statkevich -- remain in custody. They have been formally charged with organizing mass unrest.

Nyaklyaeu and Sannikau were both beaten before they were arrested and have not yet recovered from their injuries.


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