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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lukashenko Lashes Out at OSCE

MINSK, Belarus - Authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday dismissed a call by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to make Belarus' political system more democratic and hinted that he may order the OSCE mission out of the country.

?No one is going to revamp the legislation before the presidential election,? said Lukashenko, who will run for re-election next year.

The OSCE, Europe's leading human rights group, has urged Belarus to establish a democratic election code, provide adequate access to the media for all political parties and abstain from political repression before the vote.

The OSCE, as well as the European Union and European Parliament, refused to send full-fledged delegations of observers to Belarus parliamentary elections last month. They limited themselves to a small technical assessment mission, which said that the elections, won by Lukashenko's supporters, failed to meet democratic standards.

?Time has come to think about the role and the place of the OSCE advisory and monitoring group in Belarus,? Lukashenko said Tuesday at a meeting with state officials, according to Interfax.

Lukashenko has ruled the former Soviet republic with an iron hand, suppressing dissent and the media and frequently using police to break up protests. His authoritarian ways have drawn strong criticism from Western governments and international human rights groups.

On Tuesday, Lukashenko also continued a government shakeup he launched Monday. After firing Viktor Sheiman as chief of presidential Security Council the previous day, he appointed him Belarus' prosecutor general Tuesday.

There was no explanation for the security shake-up, but Lukashenko's spokesman Nikolai Borisevich said Monday that the move had likely been prompted by the agencies' failure to locate several missing opposition leaders and other prominent figures including a Russian TV cameraman, Dmitry Zavadsky.

Lukashenko also indicated his displeasure Tuesday, telling Sheiman and other law-enforcement officials in reference to Zavadsky: ?You must find them by any means, and first of all Dima!?