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Belarusian Opposition Leader To Seek EU Backing

March 31, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Belarusian opposition leader Alyaksandr Milinkevic is due to travel to Vienna next week to seek further European Union pressure on President Alyaksandr Lukashenka following disputed presidential elections.

Milinkevich will meet on Arpil 3 with Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel of Austria, the current holder of the rotating EU presidency. Milinkevich is also expected to meet Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik.

The EU has backed the Belarusian opposition, saying that the March 19 election of Lukashenka to a third term in office was fraudulent. It has also threatened sanctions against Belarusian officials.

In Minsk, rights groups say some 80 people who were jailed over protests against the election were released today. Hundreds of people were detained during the rallies and sentenced to up to 15 days in prison.

Milinkevich's team said it was investigating reports a protester beaten up by riot police had died.

(with material from 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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