Belarus bans opposition leader from election

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Aug. 22, 2012, 7:15 p.m. | Russia — by Associated Press

Belarusian dissident Alexander Milinkevich addresses on February 2, 2011 participants at an international donors' conference in solidarity with Belarus in Warsaw.

Associated Press

Associated Press

MINSK, Belarus — Election officials in authoritarian Belarus have banned a prominent opposition leader from running in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

A district election commission in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, alleged Wednesday that 15 percent of supporters' signatures Alexander Milinkevich submitted to get on the ballot were forged.

Milinkevich said the decision was triggered by the "fear" of President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the nation of 10 million since 1994.

Lukashenko's suppression of the opposition has led some Western officials to dub him "Europe's last dictator."

Milinkevich, 65, lost a presidential bid to Lukashenko in 2006 in a vote the West condemned as rigged. The parliamentary election is set for Sept. 23.

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