Warsaw - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Monday it would send observers to Belarus to monitor the trials of presidential candidates and activists charged in connection with protests after December's disputed election.
The organization, which promotes human rights and security among member states, said a first group of four observers would arrive in Belarus Wednesday. The observers are to monitor the trial of two Russians who were charged with taking part in mass disturbances.
Artyom Breus and Ivan Gaponov have plead not guilty to the charges. They were arrested in Minsk on December 19 after a crackdown on a protest against the re-election of President Aleksander Lukashenko.
The office will remain in Belarus and monitor this and other key trials as they take place.
'The observers will assess the trials for their consistency with national law and fair trial standards,' said Janez Lenari, director of the OSCE's Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
Lukashenko claimed an overwhelming victory in the December presidential poll, which was widely criticized as being unfair.
The government launched a massive crackdown after the protest, arresting some 650 people.
The European Union last month enacted a travel ban on Lukashenko and more than 150 other senior Belarusian officials.