Connect to share and comment

Russia approves Belarus elections despite opposition boycott

Moscow says voters had 'conscious choice' in controversial Belarus elections.

Teddy bears invade belarusEnlarge
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko waves as he walks with his son Nikolay while arriving to watch a military parade to mark the nation's Independence Day in central Minsk, on July 3, 2012. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Sunday’s elections in Belarus might not meet international or western standards, but Russia gave its stamp of approval today.

Voters made “a conscious choice” during the nationwide poll, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, according to Voice of America.

President Alexander Lukashenko’s ruling party swept the elections after opposition parties boycotted and suggested voters stay home.

According to the Belarus Central Elections Commission, more than 74.3 percent of those eligible voted.

But the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the US State Department said those voters had no choices, UPI reported.

More from GlobalPost: Belarus elections proceed despite opposition boycott

“The United States urges the authorities to take steps to meet Belarus’s international commitments to hold genuinely democratic elections and to foster respect for human rights,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Lukashenko – called Europe’s last dictator by the US State Department – and the three parties that support his politics dominated the results.

Opposition parties boycotted to draw attention to political prisoners and election fraud, The Associated Press reported.

The opposition, entirely ignored by state-controlled media in Belarus, didn't win a seat, the AP said.

“This election was not competitive from the start,” OSCE observer Matteo Mecacci told the AP.

“A free election depends on people being free to speak, organize and run for office, and we didn’t see that in this campaign.”

More from GlobalPost: Teddy bear bomb fallout continues in Belarus

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/120925/russia-belarus-elections-opposition-boycott