Belarus denies visas to European vote monitors

AP News
Posted: Sep 19, 2012 2:52 PM

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe says two of its representatives have been denied entry to Belarus to monitor parliamentary elections in the ex-Soviet nation.

The OSCE, a top trans-Atlantic security and rights group, said Wednesday that Belarus had denied visas to two elected members of the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly, Marieluise Beck of Germany and Emanuelis Zingeris of Lithuania, without an explanation.

The OSCE has fielded more than 300 observers to monitor Sunday's elections.

Leading opposition groups have withdrawn their candidates from the vote and called for its boycott, complaining about political prisoners and the opportunities for election fraud. Belarus' authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, has led the nation of 10 million since 1994, cracking down on dissent and independent media.