Belarus jails 15 opposition activists days before presidential election

[JURIST Europe] Belarus [government website] authorities in Minsk Monday sentenced fifteen opposition activists to short jail terms as part of the government's latest effort to suppress opposition before Sunday's presidential elections. According to human rights monitors, the activists were not given access to lawyers during the court hearings and were intimidated by the court authorities. Alexander Milinkevich [official website], the main opposition leader who is backed by Western democracy groups, attempted to visit the arrestees but was denied access.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko [official website; BBC profile], who has been called the last dictator in Europe, is expected to win a third term in the upcoming elections. Opposition leaders and human rights groups widely predict election fraud and voter intimidation. Lukashenko, who is backed by Russia, dismissed criticisms as foreigners' attempts to “destabilize the situation in the country” under the pretense of election monitoring. AP has more.

 

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