Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko wins his fifth-term victory in presidential elections

The President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, won the presidential election on Sunday with higher than ever votes of 83.5%. The representative of the opposition movement, Tatiana Korotkevich received only 4.4% of the vote and the other two pro-governmental candidates an even smaller percentage.

Opposition politicians and several hundred of their supporters boycotted the election, urging Belarusians not to participate in the vote as the results were already pre-determined. The opposition leaders called the rival candidates of Lukashenko “pro-government spoilers.” After closing the polls, about 200 activists rallied in Minsk with banners condemning Lukashenko’s “dictatorship”. This time the protest went without violence or police crackdown, unlike the aftermath of the last election five years ago when thousands of demonstrators were dispersed by the riot police and security services and Lukashenko’s rivals were arrested

In the recent months, Lukashenko has taken some measures for rapprochement with the West. Just before elections, he released six of his political foes from prison with the hope of easing the EU sanctions. As a result, the European Union decided to temporarily lift sanctions starting from January 2016 as a response to conducting elections in a “transparent and calm way”. However, Lukashenko also stated that easing ties with the EU did not threaten Russia’s status as the country’s main partner. On the other hand, the bloodshed in Ukraine has concerened Lukashenko who recently rejected the idea of deploying Russian military base in Belarus. He has also been supporting the continuation of peace talks in Ukraine as he hosted several rounds of negotiations between European leaders and Russian and Ukrainian representatives in Minsk over the past year.

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