Going against the findings of a European body, Russia has praised Sunday’s election in Belarus, describing the ballot as “free, open, and conducted in a subdued atmosphere with high voter turnout.”
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) criticised the poll that saw President Alexander Lukashenko tighten his grip on power, despite a boycott from the oppositon. Lukashenko has been in power since 1994.
Leader of the opposition United Civic Party Anatoly Lebdko said: “The so-called elections did not take place so they can’t have any legal consequences for Belarus and for its citizens. We do not have a parliament. We do not have elected members of parliament. We just have one big, black hole.”
Vitaly Rymashevsky is chairman of the other main opposition party, Christian Democracy. He added:
“The authorities have learnt to make up election results, even without any participation from voters at polling stations. The boycott was successful in all the big cities in the country.”
Complaining that the election was a sham and that activists had been stopped from protesting and imprisoned, the main opposition parties had urged people not to vote and withdrew their candidates.