West condemns violence in "flawed" Belarus election

The US and EU leaders have condemned police violence against opposition supporters in Belarus following President Lukashenko's re-election.

Amid protests against alleged vote-rigging, dozens were injured in the clashes and there were reports of mass arrests.

The Vienna-based OSCE has criticised the election as "flawed", describing the count as bad or very bad in half the country's precincts. The judgement will raise doubts over potential EU aid.

However a Russian-led observer mission says the election was legitimate.

The government in Minsk has defended the police action, saying demonstrators had tried to seize the main government building by storm.

The EU has called for the freeing of seven opposition candidates who were reportedly detained.

There is particular concern for one: Vladimir Neklyayev was beaten by police who broke up a rally of his supporters.

He was taken to hospital but his wife and aides say he was later forcibly removed by a group of men in civilian clothing.

Official results gave Alexander Lukashenko almost 80 percent support. As he cast his vote he warned his opponents against organising rallies, echoing the police who'd vowed to crack down on any protests.

During his 16 years in power, Lukashenko has never held an election seen as free and fair by western international monitors.


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