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Belarusian opposition rallies in anticipation of tough presidential election

At least 250 protesters have taken to the streets of the Belarusian capital Minsk to demand that President Aleksandr Lukashenko step down.

Protesters have also been calling for the election process to be more democratic and vote counting to be more open and transparent.

According to rally organizers, at least 2,000 took part in the protest while city authorities reported a much smaller figure of only 250.

Among those attending the rally are said to have been leading candidates in next month's presidential election.

Aleksandr Lukashenko has been in power for three terms, and is standing for election once again.

One of the presidential candidates told RT that direct action is the only way to defend the rights of Belarusian voters.

“If Lukashenko defrauds the presidential election on December 19, we're planning a mass protest,” declared Belarusian presidential candidate Vladimir Neklyaev. “It's very likely that he'll do that because he's doesn't have enough support to win in the first round,so if he proclaims victory saying he's gained more than 70 percent of the votes, which he is already claiming now, it means the election was rigged, and we're going to defend our rights and our voters' rights. There's no other way to do that than to stage a protest.”