Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and sixteen other people may run for the presidency in Belarus, the Belarusian Central Election Commission (CEC) said on Monday.
The Belarusian parliament has set presidential elections for December 19. On Monday, the CEC registered the would-be candidates' action groups.
The action groups are responsible for collecting the 100,000 signatures necessary for registration as a full-fledged candidate.
The former Belarusian deputy foreign minister Andrey Sannikov, opposition leader Aleksey Mikhalevich, economist Yaroslav Romanchuk, and the deputy head of the Green Party, Yury Glushakov, are among the would-be candidates.
The CEC refused to register the action groups of two applicants.
Earlier Lukashenko expressed confidence that neither the Kremlin, nor the West would exert pressure on Belarus during the forthcoming polls.
"The keys of the polls are not in the Kremlin, but in the pockets of the Belarusian people," Lukashenko added.
Tensions between Russia and Belarus have been at an all-time high over a number of issues including energy and Minsk's refusal to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Accordingly, there has been speculation that Russia, which has traditionally backed former collective farm manger Lukashenko, may lend its support to an opposition candidate.
MINSK, September 27 (RIA Novosti)