Two candidates in the Belarus presidential elections said on Sunday they were beaten by the special forces officers as they were heading for an unsanctioned rally in downtown Minsk.
Presidential candidate Nikolai Statkevich said he and another candidate Vladimir Neklyaev were attacked while walking in a column of several hundred people. "I was beaten and Neklyaev was beaten and he lost consciousness," he said.
Statkevich said the special forces used noise grenades and batons.
A spokeswoman for Neklyaev confirmed the report saying that he was hospitalized with head injury.
Voting stations were closed across Belarus at 20:00 local time (18:00 GMT). Incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko is set to secure a landslide victory and claim a fourth term, according to early results of exit polls.
The opposition said it already had evidence of vote-rigging and called on its supporters to meet at October Square in Minsk after the polls were over and to demand holding new elections.
Up to 150,000 their supporters will gather for the rally, they said.
Opposition said earlier police detained leader of Molodoi Front, Dmitry Dashkevich, on the eve of the election and election agent of presidential candidate Vladimir Neklyaev, Mikhail Pashkevich, on Sunday.
However, the Belarus Interior Ministry dismissed the claims that the arrest of Dashkevich was political saying that he was detained over fight.
The ministry spokesman said Dashkevich was detained together with his two accomplices following a fight with two other young men. One of them was severely injured by a naildrawer and hospitalized.
"Police just stopped the scuffle," the spokesman said.
Opposition demanded the Prosecutor General's office thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the detention.
Presidential candidate Neklyaev said Dashkevich was tasked to throw sand on a skating rink at October Square in Minsk where opposition planned to hold a rally on Sunday.
MINSK, December 19 (RIA Novosti)
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We have witnessed the total defeat of western Ukraine, Western nationalists and the West in general, which made the unfortunate decision to support the anti-government activity. They failed to realize that the collapse of Yanukovych means the collapse of Ukrainian unity. They set fire to their own home and planted a time bomb under Ukraine’s territorial integrity.