A day before elections in Belarus, the European Union is warning that any violence against peaceful protesters will provoke what it calls a “strong international reaction”.
The president of the ex-Soviet republic, Alexander Lukashenko, warned his rivals not to violate public order. “We will wring their necks as one might a duck,” he is quoted as saying.
The man western countries accuse of crushing all opposition is tipped to beat his three main challengers.
Lukashenko yesterday promised that the polls would be “no less fair and open than in other countries being held up as an example to Belarus”.
While international observers prepare for the vote, opponents of the president have urged supporters to go into the streets with flowers to declare the weekend elections as rigged.
Opposition leaders are insisting that people have the right to gather in the street.
Vowing to crush any post-election protest, President Lukashenko has questioned whether his rivals’ idea of democracy is “disorder, destruction and violence”.