16 file to oppose Lukashenko in Belarus

MINSK, Belarus, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko will face 16 opponents in December's election, the electoral commission said Monday.

Parliament has set presidential elections for Dec. 19, RIA Novosti reported.

Former Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Sannikov, opposition leader Aleksey Mikhalevich, economist Yaroslav Romanchuk, and the deputy head of the Green Party, Yury Glushakov, are among the candidates who have registered with the commission.

Earlier Lukashenko vowed that neither the Kremlin nor the West would pressure Belarus during the campaign.

"The keys of the polls are not in the Kremlin, but in the pockets of the Belarusian people," Lukashenko said.

Tensions between Russia and Belarus have risen over points of contention including energy and Minsk's refusal to recognize the Russian-backed Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

There has been speculation that Russia, which has traditionally supported Lukashenko, may swing behind an opposition candidate.


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