Belarus opposition leader meets with Polish president and premier

Belarus opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich met Thursday with Polish leaders who backed his failed bid to unseat President Alexander Lukashenko, and insisted the lost election was still a step toward victory.

"These elections were a demonstration for the whole Belarusian nation and for other countries that the authorities can only take part in elections with the help of force, violence and lies," Milinkevich said after a meeting with Polish President Lech Kaczynski.

The vote was "an important first step toward victory," he said, according to Poland 's PAP news agency.

Milinkevich was working with Kaczynski and Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz to establish a scholarship program for Belarusian students expelled from home universities due to alleged opposition to Minsk 's autocratic regime.

Later Thursday, Milinkevich and Marcinkiewicz plan to sign an agreement to allow some 300 Belarusian students to study in Poland , government spokesman Konrad Ciesiolkiewicz told PAP.

Poland has long pushed for democratic change in its authoritarian neighbor, and the agreement is the latest move in the country's active support of the opposition.

Before the March 19 presidential election, the Polish-backed Radio Racja began broadcasting from northeastern Poland to give Belarusians the chance to receive information uncensored by the Minsk authorities.

Lukashenko won a third term with 83 percent of the vote, in balloting that Western countries say was rigged, reports the AP.

D.M.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team