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Lukashenko Warns Opposition Not to March Against Parliamentary Vote

  • VOA News

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko with his youngest son Nikolai casts his ballot at a polling station during parliamentary elections in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is warning the opposition not to march against Sunday's parliamentary elections, which opponents call a sham.

Lukashenko called the opposition "cowards" who have nothing to say to the people. He said the world should admire what he called the "boring" elections in Belarus that he said are carried out with no revolutions or upheaval.

The government violently cracked down on a pro-democracy march in Minsk after the 2010 presidential election, which Mr. Lukashenko won in a landslide. A number of opposition candidates were jailed.

Authorities barred nearly every opposition candidate from Sunday's election. Opposition parties encouraged people to go pick mushrooms or stay home and make soup instead of casting a ballot.

Election officials say voter turnout Sunday was 66 percent. But witnesses and monitors say they saw just a trickle of voters at many polling places.

The United States has called Lukashenko Europe's last dictator for suppressing free speech and human rights, stifling the opposition and rigging elections.

Sunday's election will fill 110 seats in parliament. Results are expected Monday.

The United States and the European Union have imposed economic and travel sanctions on the Belarusian government for its crackdown on opposition groups.