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Lukashenko says ordered heavy-handed reaction to protesters

RIA Novosti

19:34 20/12/2010

MINSK, December 20 (RIA Novosti) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Monday that he ordered police to forcefully suppress the opposition riots that followed presidential elections in the ex-Soviet state on Sunday.

"I asked them [police] not to provoke or initiate any brawls, but said if anyone spits in your face, respond with force."

Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, won a fourth term in office on Sunday with 79.7 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results. Thousands of Belarusians gathered in Minsk's Independence Square on Sunday evening, claiming that the elections had been rigged. Some 600 opposition members, including former presidential candidates, were brutally arrested after they attempted to storm parliament.

The long-standing Belarusian leader said he would ensure all opposition members involved in the riots remained in prison.

Lukashenko also told journalists on Monday that he believed the uprising was orchestrated by former presidential candidates, who planned the unrest long before election day.

He pledged to release secret documents providing evidence of ties between the opposition and the West.

"I ordered the publication of all of the documents so that the people can look closely at our western parties and at our so-called 'opposition'," The Belarusian leader said, adding that the materials would be published on a "Wikileaks-style website."

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