Belarus opposition leader declines to stand in 'theater' polls

Belarusian opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich said on Friday he would not run in the country's presidential elections later this year, dubbing them "a theater."

The Belarusian parliament has set December 19 as the date for presidential elections. Long-serving Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko earlier hinted that he would run, but has so far made no official statement.

"I am not putting forward my candidacy as I do not want to be an extra in a theater with a single director and a single actor," Milinkevich, who gained just 6% of the vote in the 2006 polls, told a news conference in Minsk.

"Lukashenko has every chance of once again appointing himself president," he added.

Western nations, including the United States, called the 2006 presidential elections in Belarus fraudulent and introduced sanctions against the country and travel bans on some Belarusian officials.

The opposition, led by Milinkevich, protested the results of the elections in central Minsk in what was widely seen as an attempt to repeat the color revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia. The rally was soon dispelled and Milinkevich was briefly arrested.

MINSK, September 17 (RIA Novosti)


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