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Belarus Opposition Leader Visits European Parliament

Belarus opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich has urged the European Union to bar entry to hundreds of Belarusian officials he says were responsible for fraud in the country's March 19 presidential elections.

Milinkevich made the appeal while visiting the European Parliament in Strasbourg. He also urged EU assistance to Belarusian students expelled from universities for opposition activities.

Many European Parliament members greeted Milinkevich's presence by wearing red and white scarves, the colors of the opposition in Belarus.

EU lawmakers are expected to vote Thursday on a resolution urging the bloc's foreign ministers to freeze the assets of Belarusian officials responsible for election fraud. The foreign ministers are to meet next week.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Bratislava criticized the possible EU measures. He suggested the bloc use dialogue not isolation in dealings with Belarus.

The announcement by Belarus authorities that President Alexander Lukashenko overwhelmingly won a third term sparked protests by opposition activists who considered the vote fraudulent.

Belarusian police broke up the protests after five days, confirming about 500 arrests. Opposition activists have put the number closer to 1,000.

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