News / Europe

Belarus Strongman Lukashenko Expected to Win Re-Election

Incumbent Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko with his son, Nikolai, at a polling station in the capital, Minsk, 19 Dec 2010
Incumbent Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko with his son, Nikolai, at a polling station in the capital, Minsk, 19 Dec 2010
James Brooke

Belarusians voted Sunday in a presidential election that seems destined to add another five years to President Lukashenko's 16-year rule.

Wearing fur hats and bulky overcoats, voters turned out to vote in one of Belarus' shortest and coldest days of the year.  

Opposition claims fraud

Even before the polls opened, a monitoring group supported by opposition parties said the government had committed fraud by tampering with ballots cast during five days of early voting.

Sergey Kalyakin chairs the monitoring group "For Fair Elections in 2010.”
He said that his group received numerous reports that voting station directors did not seal voting boxes and protect them from tampering by government officials.

Over 99 percent of poll-watchers were appointed by the government. About 1,000 foreign election observers were registered in Belarus.

About 10 percent of votes were cast early, according to the election commission.

Pre-election polls indicated that there could be enough support for the nine opposition candidates to deny President Lukashenko a first round victory of 50  percent, plus one vote.

Different views on Lukashenko

Opposition presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov told VOA after voting Sunday that a lot of Belarusians – he would say the overwhelming majority -- wants change."

But Galina Sergeyevna, a teacher of management, who voted at the same poling station as Sannikov, say that she likes Mr. Lukashenko's gradual approach to change and that she appreciates the peace and quiet of her nation.

Ivan, a 24-year-old shop assistant, said he, too, supports Lukashenko, but would like to see a faster integration of Belarus, a country of 9.6 million wedged between Poland and Russia, with Europe and the US.

Old ways deeply ingrained

Urbana Mikhailovna, another teacher, agrees with those who say Belarus needs change, but sees it hard to come by as the government, as she said, controls the entire electoral machinery here.

Stanislav Shushkevich, who led Belarus for two years after it broke away from a collapsing Soviet Union in 1991, shared this pessimism about change in an interview with VOA on Saturday. He said that the current government operates by “old methods,” adding that this mean a complete falsification if the electoral process.

Lukashenko’s rise and style

In 1994, Shushkevich held what are widely seen as Belarus' first free presidential elections. Lukashenko won that election and subsequently amended the constitution to extend his term in office. In 2006, he won re-election in a vote that was deemed undemocratic.

On Sunday, Lukashenko vehemently denied fraud charges during a 17-minute press conference aired at midday on national television.

Speaking after voting in a sports school, the burly leader said any question of fraud would be decided by the state election commission. Asked why he was appearing on television after campaigning officially ended on Saturday, he said that the nation would like to see what their president was doing.

Asked if he will talk with the opposition after the election, he replied that he would not talk to what he called "bandits and diversionaries.”

He added that he would talk with normal opposition figures, those who shared his goal of a "peaceful, beautiful, quiet Belarus."

Status quo likely to remain

Not everyone voted Sunday. Mila, an English teacher, said that voting does not change anything.

"There won't be any impact. Everything will be exactly the same."

Asking that her last name not be used, she hurried home past October Square, the site of the planned opposition protest.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid