Berliner Tageblatt - Belarus President Lukashenko to seek re-election next year

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Belarus President Lukashenko to seek re-election next year
Belarus President Lukashenko to seek re-election next year / Photo: © Belarusian presidential press service/AFP

Belarus President Lukashenko to seek re-election next year

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has held power since 1994, said on Sunday he intended to seek re-election next year, which could extend his rule to 36 years.

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He was speaking on the day Belarus, a neighbour and ally of Russia, held parliamentary elections decried as a sham by the opposition and the West.

"Tell them I will run in the (2025) election," Lukashenko said, according to a social media channel run by his team.

Sunday's ballot is the first nationwide poll since the presidential election of 2020, a vote which sparked huge protests against Lukashenko, who is widely believed to have rigged the result to extend his decades-long rule.

The president has since orchestrated a huge crackdown on dissent, jailing hundreds of opponents and forcing thousands into exile.

There are no real opposition candidates in Sunday's parliamentary elections.

Lukashenko's exiled opponents have urged Belarusians to stay at home and boycott the vote.

Lukashenko warned the authorities had "learnt our lesson" since the 2020 protests and there would be "no rebellions" during Sunday's election.

Last month, Belarus's powerful KGB security service orchestrated a series of raids which rights group said had targeted the families of political prisoners.

There are currently 1,419 political detainees in Belarusian jails, according to leading human rights group Viasna.

Exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya posted a video on social media dismissing Sunday's elections.

"Let's be clear: the regime's attempt to use these fake elections to legitimise its power will not be successful," Tikhanovskaya said.

"The people of Belarus see through this sham," she said, urging the international community not to recognise the outcome of the ballot.

The United States also slammed the vote as "sham parliamentary elections" on Sunday.

"Impossible to hold free and fair elections in a climate of fear and with 1400+ political prisoners. We support the democratic aspirations of the Belarusian people," State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on X, formerly Twitter.

Lukashenko has thrown his closed east European country into even deeper isolation since he allowed Russia to use Belarusian territory to launch its Ukraine offensive two years ago.

The Minsk regime relies heavily on Moscow for political and economic support.

"We will always be together with Russia," Lukashenko said on Sunday.