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Lukashenko to run for president in 2025, Belarus blasts US over poll criticism
Lukashenko to run for president in 2025, Belarus blasts US over poll criticism
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Lukashenko to run for president in 2025, Belarus blasts US over poll criticism
by DZRH News27 February 2024
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attends a meeting of the Supreme State Council of Russia-Belarus Union State in Saint Petersburg, Russia, January 29, 2024. Sputnik/Vyacheslav Prokofyev/Pool via REUTERS/ File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko said he would run for president again in 2025, Belarusian state news agency BelTA reported on Sunday.

Lukashenko made his comments after voting in parliamentary and local council elections, denounced by the United States as a sham. The ex-Soviet state's top election official dismissed the criticism and told Washington to look after its own affairs.

BelTA said Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, told journalists: "Tell them (the exiled opposition) that I'll run. No one, no responsible president would abandon his people who followed him into battle."

Lukashenko, 69, is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest allies and allowed the Kremlin to use his country's territory to launch its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

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"We're still a year away from the presidential election. A lot of things can change," he said in response to a follow-up question, BelTA reported.

"Naturally, I and all of us, society, will react to the changes that will take place in our society and the situation in which we will approach the elections in a year's time," Lukashenko said.

The U.S. State Department condemned what it called the "sham" elections Belarus in on Sunday.

"The elections were held in a climate of fear under which no electoral processes could be called democratic," department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

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The chairman of Belarus' Central Election Commission, in comments quoted by BelTA, said it was not up to the United States to comment on the election.

"We don't denounce their elections. We make no statements, even if they had over there a lot of questions for all to see, even in their last presidential election," Igor Karpenko was quoted as saying.

"They work according to the principle that we are bigger and can therefore tell everyone what to do. I think we can manage quite nicely conducting elections in our own country," Karpenko said.

Election commission officials said voter turnout stood at just below 73% by mid-evening.

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Lukashenko's re-election to a sixth term in 2020 sparked unprecedented protests by opponents alleging mass vote-rigging. Putin offered support to Lukashenko and the demonstrations died out after mass roundups and detentions of protesters by police.

Lukashenko told reporters the role of parliament would be bolstered in his country.

"People are beginning to understand that in Belarus, for example, a president is not a tsar or a god. It is very hard work," BelTA quoted him as saying. "Parliament's role will be expanded, every month, every year."

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge, Ron Popeski and Bill Berkrot)

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