MINSK, Belarus (AP)
Authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, facing the prospect of mass protests after this weekend's election, vowed that his opponents would not be able to seize power.
Lukashenko's main opponents have called on supporters to hold demonstrations if they consider the results of Sunday's vote to be fraudulent. Authorities have banned any such gatherings, setting up the possibility of violent confrontations between protesters and police.
Similar protests in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan _ ex-Soviet republics, like Belarus _ helped bring opposition leaders to power there over the past two years. Lukashenko, shunned by the West, which has called him Europe's last dictator, has repeatedly alleged that those in opposition to his hardline rule are plotting similar moves.
"I guarantee that an overthrow of the government in our country will not take place. There will not be a forceful seizure of institutions or the blocking of squares and streets," Lukashenko said Friday in a nationally televised address to the country. "Today everything is being done to prevent even the smallest threat to the security of the people."
Lukashenko vowed swift action against any foreigner trying to sow chaos.
"God forbid one of them should try to do something in our country. We will twist his head off immediately _ like a duckling's," Lukashenko said in comments shown on state TV news.
The statement followed an array of allegations that plans to forcefully unseat Lukashenko _ who is running for a third term _ have been discovered. Many of the allegations involve Georgians, whose country's "Rose Revolution" of 2003 inspired later protests in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.
Nine Georgian lawmakers who were to join an international elections monitoring mission were detained at the Belarusian capital's airport, and an official said Friday they would be sent back to Georgia.
A spokesman for the Belarusian border guards, Vasily Kiptenko, said they were detained Thursday because "they were not desirable on our territory."
Also Friday, the Belarusian KGB said it had arrested a Georgian citizen on suspicion of funding the opposition. He was detained "in the interests of the state," KGB spokesman Valery Nadtochayev said.
The KGB on Thursday accused a Georgian lawmaker and employees of Georgian embassies in neighboring countries of plotting subversive actions during Sunday's vote.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry said the lawmakers' detentions exposed "the Belarus government's undisguised decision to act in defiance of the universally recognized principles of democracy and transparency in elections."
The Georgian lawmakers were to have been part of the monitoring mission led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The Central Election Commission, meanwhile, said the KGB had obtained falsified vote-count reports showing main opposition candidate Alexander Milinkevich receiving 51 percent of the votes and Lukashenko 37 percent.
The documents bore a forgery of the signature of elections commission head Lidiya Yermoshina, and allegedly were to be sent to the Ukrainian office of the U.S. National Democratic Institute, the state news agency Belta reported, citing the election commission. A man who identified himself only as Yermoshina's secretary confirmed the report to The Associated Press.
An NDI spokesman in Washington, Ken Wallach, denied the allegation, calling it part of a "larger campaign to discredit individuals who want to engage constructively in electoral processes."
KGB chief Stepan Sukhorenko has warned that any protesters who violate the ban on demonstrations Sunday could be charged with terrorism.
At a campaign rally with Kozulin, Milinkevich remained defiant.
"We are stronger, we are not afraid of the authorities," he told a crowd of hundreds jammed into a shabby Soviet-era movie theater.
Responding to a warning from Belarus' foreign minister that the opposition and its foreign supporters would bear responsibility for any election violence, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said any violence against peaceful protests "would meet with a strong international reaction."
Lukashenko has increasingly tightened his grip on the country since taking office in 1994, but many Belarusians credit him with improving the economy and bringing stability.