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US, EU Impose Travel Restrictions on Belarus President


The United States and European Union have announced new sanctions against Belarus after the overnight arrest of several hundred opposition activists who had protested the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Washington and the European Union will apply targeted travel restrictions against Mr. Lukashenko and others. He condemned the sweep by security forces through Minsk's October Square to break up opposition protests against what activists considered fraud in Sunday's elections. He urged the release of those arrested.

Earlier, EU leaders, at their summit in Brussels, agreed to extend restrictions against Mr. Lukashenko, including a ban on his travel to union countries.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich vowed to push ahead with a major demonstration Saturday.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe of instigating tensions during the election campaign.

OSCE observers who monitored Sunday's balloting said voting was marred by intimidation and the suppression of independent voices, and noted the "arbitrary use of state power and widespread detentions" of opposition supporters.

Belarusian election officials say President Lukashenko won a third consecutive term with 83 percent of the vote, while his top rival Milinkevich, garnered only six percent.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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