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Protest Against Belarus President Enters Fourth Day


Hundreds of opposition activists in Belarus are in the fourth day of protests against what they consider fraud in the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko.

The crowds at October Square in Minsk dwindled from late Tuesday when thousands gathered to hear opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich speak. He called on supporters to gather every day until a huge anti-government rally planned for Saturday.

Reports Wednesday, said about 600 people and some 15 tents remained in the square despite frigid temperatures. Opposition activists say police assaulted a protester when he briefly left the square early Wednesday.

Belarus officials have dismissed the protests as pathetic. Mr. Lukashenko has rejected foreign criticism of Sunday's vote in which, according to official figures, he scored a landslide victory.

U.S. and European Union officials say the election was a fraud and warn they are considering new sanctions against Belarus.

Russian election monitors, however, say the vote was free and transparent.

The United States has said President Lukashenko is Europe's last dictator because of his suppression of human rights and free speech.

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