March 3, 2006 -- Prosecutors in Belarus today said they have opened a criminal investigation against an opposition candidate who is challenging President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's bid for reelection on March 19.
Alyaksandr Kazulin, who was beaten and briefly detained by state security agents on March 2, is accused of smashing a portrait of Lukashenka while in detention at a police station.
He is also accused of trying to stage an unsanctioned news conference.
Earlier today, the European Union's Austrian presidency expressed deep concern over Kazulin's arrest.
In a written statement issued in Vienna today, the EU urged Belarus to guarantee the personal safety of all those taking part in the March 19 election.