Putin congratulates Lukashenko on winning presidential vote in Belarus

Vladimir Putin has congratulated his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko on retaining his job following Sunday’s election, expressing hope that he will continue to boost ties with Moscow during his next term as president.

“I hope that your state activities will further promote the development of mutually beneficial Russian-Belarusian relations in all areas,” Putin wrote in his message, including the economic and military sectors.

The rapprochement between the two neighbors “is undoubtedly in line with the fundamental interests of the brotherly peoples of Russia and Belarus,” he pointed out.

Lukashenko, who has been running Belarus since 1994, claimed 80 percent of the vote on Sunday, while main opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya received less than 10 percent.

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Lukashenko re-elected as Belarus president with 80% of vote, preliminary results say, after massive protests mark election day

Massive protests broke out in Belarus’ capital Minsk and other cities across the country after the polling stations closed. There were violent clashes, with police using tear gas, water cannons, flashbang grenades and other means to disperse the crowds. Human rights activists said one person was killed, but law enforcers have denied this.

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