Poland's FM says Belarusian election was fixed

Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski says that a 'reliable source' has informed him that the official results of the presidential election in Belarus on Sunday have been falsified and Alexander Lukashenko did not win the ballot outright.

"According to sources, which we believe to be true, Alexander Lukashenko has not won this election," Sikorski told the private TVN television channel, suggesting that this was the reason behind the brutal suppression of demonstrations on Sunday night.

Sikorski's remarks come as five out of the nine other presidential candidates languish in prison. Andrei Sannikov, Vladimir Neklyavev, Nikolai Statkevich, Ales Mikhalevich and Vitaly Rymashevsky are being held in Belarusian security service (KGB) detention centres along with hundreds of protestors and joureign and Belarusian journalists.

Poland's foreign minister also said he believed that Lukashenko's vote share was actually well below the 50 percent, which would have necessitated a second round in the election.

A poll for the Polish funded Belsat TV station released on Sunday as polling stations closed found that Lukashenko won around 30 percent of the vote at the weekend, 50 percent less that official exit polls and results suggest.

Sikorski said that results released by Belarus's election commission, that Lukashenko received 80 percent of the vote, are a forgery.

Poles understand violence in December

On the violent reaction of police and militia in Minsk against protestors who claimed the election was rigged, Sikorski said, "We Poles associate with that kind of repression in the month of December. It reminds us of martial law [which began in Poland December 1981]."

Lukashenko said on television on Monday that police had detained 639 people, many of which he called "bandits" for trying to kick down the doors of a government building.

Minsk authorities say that around 600 will be kept in prison for up to two weeks while their case is being processed.

Counter accusations say that state militia attacked the building as part of a provocation to discredit the opposition. (pg)


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