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Belarusian dissidents urge authorities to treat them as opponents, not thugs

© RIA Novosti . Sergei Samokhin  / Go to the photo bankVladimir Neklyaev
Vladimir Neklyaev - Sputnik International
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The backers of Belarusian ex-presidential candidate Vladimir Neklyaev on Monday urged the national leadership to treat them as political opponents rather than criminals.

The backers of Belarusian ex-presidential candidate Vladimir Neklyaev on Monday urged the national leadership to treat them as political opponents rather than criminals.

Hundreds of people were detained during a demonstration in central Minsk after the December 19 presidential elections, which secured the country's long-standing strongman Alexander Lukashenko his fourth term in office. The opposition called the elections "flawed."

Forty-two people are facing lengthy jail terms for inciting "mass unrest." Last week, Belarusian dissident Vasily Parfenkov was jailed for four years after being found guilty of smashing a window at the parliament building.

At a press conference held in Minsk, one of the senior figures in Neklyaev's election campaign, Sergei Voznyak, said: "I am addressing the leadership of the country. We held a political struggle and you should treat us as political opponents rather than criminals."

Voznyak said the criminal case over the protests in Minsk should be revised because "the issue is not about mass riots, but about several people who yielded to the actions of the provocateurs."

Another senior member of Neklyaev's election team, Andrei Dmitriyev, announced the beginning of the Peoples' Solidarity nationwide campaign. Belarusian opposition activists from twelve cities today will send requests to hold demonstrations on March 19.

MINSK, February 28 (RIA Novosti)

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