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Slovak Foreign Ministry critical of police action in Minsk

SLOVAKIA's Foreign Ministry has criticized the actions of re-elected Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who on March 24 used riot police to break up a five-day demonstration at a tent camp on Minsk's October Square.

Ministry's spokesman Juraj Tomaga told the TASR news agency that the Belarus police had raided the camp in the early hours. Around 200 demonstrators, angry that Lukashenko had retained the presidency he has held since 1994, were taken from the square in trucks to a detention centre.

According to the Slovak Foreign Ministry, the demonstrators were peacefully protesting the results of Sunday's presidential elections, which international observers have said was rigged. Lukashenko won the election with 83-percent support, while his main opposition rival, Alexander Milinkevic, took only 6.1 percent.

The ministry has appealed to Belarus authorities to halt the repression against the supporters of opposition presidential candidates Alexandr Kozulin and Alexandr Milinkevic. In addition, the Slovak ministry called for the release of the protesters, as well as prisoners who have been persecuted for their political convictions.

Compiled by Martina Jurinová from press reports
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