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Lukashenka Vows To Use Force On 'Troublemakers'

March 17, 2006 -- Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka today warned against any attempt at stirring unrest in the country, saying security forces would "wring the neck" of troublemakers.

Lukashenka made the comment two days ahead of the March 19 presidential election, in which he is seeking a third term in office.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, earlier today warned Belarusian authorities that they would meet "strong international reaction" if they used violence against peaceful demonstrators.

Belarus's main opposition candidate, Alyaksandr Milinkevich, has called on supporters to rally in Minsk tomorrow.

The European Union has stepped up pressure on Lukashenka to ensure that the upcoming polls will be fair and democratic.

The EU Commission on March 16 warned it could lengthen the list of six Belarusian officials already barred from entering EU territory if the election is rigged.

(Belta, Reuters)

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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