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Belarusian Opposition Figures to Face Additional Criminal Charges

Prosecutors in Belarus say they are considering additional criminal charges against Belarusian opposition leaders in the wake of demonstrations contesting this month's presidential elections.

Prosecutor-General Pyotr Miklashevich Wednesday said opposition leaders Alexander Kozulin and Alexander Milinkevich could face charges of organizing the mass protests, which carry a 15-day jail sentence.

In addition, Kozulin has been charged with hooliganism, and faces a possible six-year prison term.

Prosecutors say more than 500 activists were detained since last week for protesting what they considered fraud in the March 19 vote, which officials say produced a landslide victory for President Alexander Lukashenko. Opposition activists put the number of those detained at more than 1,000.

In Oslo, visiting Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov called the election fair. He urged the international community to embrace Belarus, saying any attempts to isolate the country would be counter-productive.

Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a U.S. Senate subcommittee that Mr. Lukashenko's government was Europe's last "really bad dictatorship."

She said the United States will soon join the European Union in imposing new sanctions against Belarus.

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