Belarusian opposition leader meets Merkel

Belarusian opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich met Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and expressed gratitude for the public show of support in the struggle against the country's authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. Milinkevich lost to Lukashenko in March 19 elections rejected by Western governments as undemocratic and fraudulent.

"He did not win the election at all, because the regime did not even attempt to create the illusion of a democratic election," Milinkevich told reporters at the headquarters of Merkel's political party, the Christian Democratic Union.

" Belarus is losing its fear and apathy. ... We have not won the final victory but we have taken a big step forward," he said. Milinkevich said his meeting with Merkel "shows that she is giving us a high level of moral support." The European Parliament is urging EU governments to impose a visa ban on him and other Belarusian leaders, involved in human rights violations in the ex-Soviet republic, reports the AP.

N.U.