Belarus Quiet a Day After Quelled Protest

By YURAS KARMANAU Associated Press Writer

MINSK, Belarus - The streets of Belarus were quiet Sunday, one day after riot police forcefully dispersed hundreds of opposition supporters in the capital.

The European Union said it was "appalled by the violence" and urged Belarus' neighbors to join it in protesting the arrests of demonstrators in the tightly controlled ex-Soviet republic.

The 25-nation bloc also called for the release of Alexander Kozulin, a main Belarusian opposition figure who was detained in a clash with riot police on Saturday.

Kozulin's spokeswoman Nina Shedlovskaya said Saturday he had been beaten by police. On Sunday, Kozulin's wife, Irina, said his condition was "OK."

"The rescue squad wasn't called for him," she told The Associated Press.

Kozulin was detained as protesters heeded his call to march to a jail that was holding others detained during an unprecedented week of daily protests set off by the disputed election that handed authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko a third term.

Austria, which holds the rotating EU presidency, demanded the immediate release of Kozulin and other opposition members. Austria "urges the international partners of the EU, and in particular Belarus' other neighbors, to follow the same approach toward Belarus," an EU statement said in an apparent reference to Russia.

The human-rights group Vyasna said more than 100 people were detained Saturday in connection with a series of opposition actions, including an attempt to rally on a central square that was repulsed by police, a later rally in a nearby park and the attempt to march to the jail.

The opposition contends the March 19 election was wildly fraudulent and international observers said it fell far short of democratic norms, with problems including harassment of opposition candidates and distorted coverage by state-dominated mass media.

Kozulin, who was one of three candidates running against Lukashenko, appears less popular among opposition forces than main candidate Alexander Milinkevich.

Milinkevich on Saturday disapproved of Kozulin's call for the march to the jail, saying it unnecessarily provoked police.

On Sunday, without mentioning him by name, he said "each politician must conduct predictable, foreseeable policies."

Also Sunday, about 80 pro-Lukashenko youth activists picketed the U.S. Embassy in Minsk for about an hour, shouting "Hands off Belarus." Russian news agencies said protesters also picketed Poland's Embassy.

Lukashenko and other officials contend the United States and Western European countries are giving financial and moral support to opposition groups with the aim of provoking mass protests like those in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan _ ex-Soviet republics like Belarus _ that helped bring opposition leaders to power after elections regarded as fraudulent.