Belarus Opposition Protests Elections

MINSK, Belarus -- Opposition activists called Monday for the U.S. and European Union not to recognize the results of parliamentary elections swept by supporters of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who had promised the vote would meet international standards.

"We can't say that the opposition has lost since in fact there was no election," said Valentina Svyatskaya of the Belarusian Popular Front.

Election officials, however, insisted the election was free and fair, even though none of the 70 opposition candidates won seats in Parliament, with results from all 110 voting districts counted.

"The opposition has gone out of fashion," said Central Elections Commission chief Lidiya Yermoshina. She added that more than 75% of eligible voters cast ballots in Sunday's election.

The opposition said its members made up less than 1% of the country's 100,000 vote counters. People were allowed to cast their votes for five days in advance of Sunday's election, compounding fears of fraud.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was to release its report later Monday.

"A theater featuring a single actor continues to exist in Belarus," said Sergei Kalyakin, a communist leader allied with opposition groups. "It will be very difficult for West to step over its principles to recognize the elections."



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