Report: Belarus' Milinkevich says elections can't bring end to his country's authoritarian regime

The Associated Press

PRAGUE, Czech Republic Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's authoritarian regime can only be toppled if people take to the streets, because it is impossible to do so in elections, opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich said Monday, according to a Czech news agency.

"It shows that it is impossible to topple a dictatorship in elections," Milinkevich was quoted as saying in an interview with Czech news agency CTK.

"The regime would not change even if we win (the elections.) We don't have the means to have the votes recounted and to prove our victory."

Milinkevich failed to unseat Lukashenko in the March presidential election, and then spent two weeks in jail for participating in an unauthorized protest in late April. He was again detained in July.

Lukashenko - who has ruled the nation since 1994 - won another five-year term in a vote the opposition and Western officials denounced as fraudulent.

"There's nothing left to us (other) than the street, without it, we will not get rid of the regime," Milinkevich was quoted as saying.

Milinkevich is in Prague to attend Forum 2000, an annual conference on religious and cultural coexistence.