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    "Revolution over" in Belarus as police end protest - official

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    Belarusian police in the early hours of Friday morning forcibly broke up a five-day protest in central Minsk by opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko against last weekend's presidential elections.

    MOSCOW, March 24 (RIA Novosti) - Belarusian police in the early hours of Friday morning forcibly broke up a five-day protest in central Minsk by opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko against last weekend's presidential elections.

    "The revolution has ended," a high-ranking law-enforcement official said, adding that police had detained protesters and dismantled tents on Minsk's central Oktyabrskaya Square.

    Social Democratic Party leader Alexander Kozulin, one of three defeated candidates in last Sunday's elections, said some 200 protesters had been arrested in a police raid at 4 a.m. local time (2 a.m. GMT).

    "This act demonstrates the weakness of the authorities," he said.

    Speculation that former Polish ambassador to Belarus Mariush Mashkevich was one of those arrested on the square was fueled by the arrival of a senior Polish Consular official at a police station where detained protesters are being held.

    A source said Mashkevich had called a Polish journalist to say he had been arrested.

    Main opposition candidate Alexander Milinkevich said the opposition would press ahead with plans to hold a large-scale rally March 25. Milinkevich said earlier Thursday the demonstration would be peaceful, and demonstrators would not storm the presidential residence on March 25.

    Cracks in the opposition front had appeared Wednesday, as Kozulin accused Milinkevich of breaking an agreement to call the protests off.

    March 25 is known as Freedom Day, an unofficial holiday marking the day when Belarus declared independence in 1918, and a traditional day for opposition demonstrations. 

    The Central Election Committee Thursday announced the final results of Sunday's elections, won by incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko with 83% of the vote. Milinkevich garnered 6.1%, parliamentarian Sergei Gaidukevich 3.5%, and Kozulin 2.2%. The election turnout was 92.9%, or more than 6.6 million people.

    Opposition candidates denounced the elections as neither free nor fair, and called for a re-run. Thousands of demonstrators came onto the streets to protest Monday, but numbers dwindled in the face of freezing temperatures.

    Election Committee chairwoman Lidiya Ermoshina said Lukashenko would be inaugurated March 31.

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