Moscow: Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko described as the 'last dictator in Europe' is expected to win a fourth term in elections that took place Sunday in the former Soviet Republic, exit polls claim.
Lukashenka, who is seeking fourth five-year term is said to be leading with over 70 per cent votes exit polls show. His nearest rival Andrei Sannikov is trailing far behind with only 6.33 per cent votes, ECOOM pollster said after questioning 4431 voters at 100 polling stations across the country. There were 10 candidates in the fray.
Popularly known as 'Bat'ka' (papa) Lukashenka, 56, is often described as the 'last dictator in Europe' by his liberal opposition, which so far has failed to unite against him. He has been in power since 1994 in 9.6 million strong former Soviet republic.
"I am going into the elections with absolute confidence. I feel the support of the people. If I didn't feel it, I wouldn't have run as a candidate," Lukashenka was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.
The opposition says it already has evidence of vote-rigging and is calling for new elections without Lukashenka. More than 23 per cent absentee votes were already cast by today's polling, which the opposition sees an evidence of ballot-rigging.
The EU will be watching closely for the OSCE election monitoring verdict, expected tomorrow, and Brussels' reaction could be a key factor in Belarus' foreign policy.
The Kremlin, which had launched a smear campaign against Lukashenka, seems to have mended fences with him fearing a Georgia-type Rose revolution, in the country acting as a buffer between Russia and NATO.