Fraud predicted in Belarus elections

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The Independent Online

The main opposition candidate in Belarus's presidential elections has said that fraud was likely and called on his supporters to prepare to "defend your choice in the streets".

With tension mounting ahead of the vote on 19 March, Alexander Milinkevich told hundreds of voters in Baranovich that the incumbent, Alexander Lukashenko, would officially receive 80 per cent of the vote, "without even counting, not even waiting until the end of voting. They are already preparing for this."

He called on voters to "defend your choice in the streets. How you vote has no meaning for the regime. Only people taking to the streets can disappoint them."

Meanwhile, police beat up at least nine journalists who covered the temporary detention of another opposition presidential candidate, Alexander Kozulinin, the leader of the Social Democratic party, in the capital, Minsk, on 2 March, the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said.

Witnesses said Mr Kozulin, a former dean of Minsk university, was beaten up after organisers refused to register him when he arrived at the Congress of People's Deputies.

Prosecutors said Mr Kozulin was under investigation for "hooliganism".

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