MINSK -- The parliament in Belarus toughened election laws Monday, making it harder for candidates to stage public meetings with voters.
The liberal and nationalist opposition, which mounted unprecedented protests against Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko's landslide re-election in March, said the new measures would force many activists underground.
The parliament, in which the opposition holds no seats, voted 103 to three in favor of changes requiring candidates to seek approval from local authorities before meeting candidates anywhere out of doors.
"This is primarily linked to concerns for the safety of voters who come out to meet candidates, in presidential or parliamentary elections," Lidia Yermoshina, veteran head of Belarus' Central Election Commission, told reporters. "Presidential candidates have not always acted in proper fashion."
Alexander Milinkevich, the main opposition candidate who ran against Lukashenko in March, "conducted his meetings in just about any place he fancied," she said. (Reuters)