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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 12:10 GMT
Eyewitness: Expelled from Belarus
Michael Johnson
Eight members of a Scandinavian team of unofficial election observers have been ordered to leave the country, days before the presidential elections.

The BBC News website spoke to one of the those arrested - Michael Johnson, 23, the Belarus co-ordinator for the Social Democratic Youth of Denmark (DSU).


We have been in Belarus since Sunday. Some of us are from the DSU, which together with Silba make up Friends Across Borders.

We came to carry out exit polls to prove to the world whether or not the elections were fair. While we were out we were harassed by police who were questioning us.

What we are scared about is what they may do to the translators we used and the people we have talked to

During the day, they arrested one of our group and he was questioned for several hours.

When he came back to our hotel the police came and arrested six of us.

They confiscated our computers and our information devices and took us to a police station.

We stayed there for four or five hours. They questioned us one by one about what we were doing and our project. We explained to them. There was no rough treatment.

They took information from our memory sticks and so they have information about us - we are in all six regions.

It was kind of surreal because it is the KGB - like in the old James Bond movies, they dress the same and have the same name.

Fears

It was surreal, we were afraid but we stuck together and we are young.

We are leaving on Thursday to go back to our families.

But our personal situation is not so important, what we are scared about is what they may do to the translators we used and the people we have talked to.

It is only a symbol of the elections and this country. This is a repressive dictatorship that will win the elections, as the president says "elegantly" - meaning opposition will be crushed.

I'm scared about what will happen after and in the future. They are not interested in them being fair.



SEE ALSO:
Belarus rally marred by arrests
02 Mar 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Belarus
08 Mar 06 |  Country profiles


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