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Belarus |  President Lukashenko announced that he will run again in 2025

Belarus | President Lukashenko announced that he will run again in 2025

(Moscow) – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Sunday he will run to succeed him next year, an announcement made on the day of legislative elections that were described as a sham election by an exiled opposition and bloodless after years of repression. .

After his much-criticized re-election in 2020, the Belarusian leader cracked down on unprecedented opposition protests, imprisoning hundreds and forcing thousands into exile.

“I tell them all that I will run” in 2025, the man who has been in charge of the country since 1994, said after the vote, according to the Telegram channel run by his team.

No opposition was able to participate in the legislative elections that took place on Sunday. Its exiled leaders called on residents to boycott the vote.

Lukashenko also stressed that the authorities had learned the lessons of 2020 and stressed that there would be no “mutinies” on Sunday.

In January, Belarusian authorities again intensified raids targeting relatives of opponents and political prisoners, according to human rights movements.

The NGO Viasna, whose founder and 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski is serving a ten-year prison sentence, lists 1,419 political prisoners in the country.

Exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, whose husband is in prison, described Sunday's election as a sham.

“Let me be clear, the regime’s attempt to use these sham elections to legitimize itself is doomed to fail,” she said in an online video.

The United States also denounced the “sham legislative elections.”

“It is impossible to hold a free and fair vote in a climate of fear and with more than 1,400 political prisoners,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on X.

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Belarus, under Western sanctions, is largely isolated on the international stage, but is Russia's main ally, even giving it its territory in February 2022 to enable an attack on Ukraine.

Photo: Dmitry Astakhov, Sputnik, Reuters archive

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko

Lukashenko, who relies on political and economic support from the Kremlin, stressed: “We will always be with Russia.”