Belarusian presidential election results could spoil ties with Russia

Sunday's presidential elections in Belarus, which were blemished by subsequent opposition riots, will complicate relations between Moscow and Minsk, Russian political experts have said.

Thousands of Belarusians were brutally dispersed in clashes with Interior Ministry troops late Sunday when opposition protestors tried to storm the parliament after preliminary results showed strongman Alexander Lukashenko had won his fourth consecutive term as president.

"The preliminary results issued by the Central Election Committee are predictable, but the intensity of protests and the austerity of the police response were little bit surprising," Yevgeny Minchenko, head of the International Institute of Political Expertise said.

The situation around the election will seriously complicate Lukashenko's further maneuvers between Russia and the EU, Minchenko said.

Russia is now pondering the question whether to recognize the results of the presidential elections or dismiss them. "I think Moscow won't hurry with this [choice]," Minchenko said. He warned of the possibility of new tensions between Lukashenko and the Kremlin.

"If Russia regards itself as a democratic state and is striving for the role of an international leader," it should not recognize the results of the election, Yury Solozobov from Russia's National Strategy Institute said.

The EU and the United States were also incensed by the clashes after the election, he added.

"We have been pardoning his [Lukashenko's] twists and turns for too long hoping that Lukashenko will hold policies responding to our interests," Sergei Karaganov, head of Russia's Council for Foreign and Defense Policy said.

Moscow's "unspoken" position should force Lukashenko, who is currently following anti-Russian policies, to feel "even more nervous and uncertain than before the elections," he concluded.

MOSCOW, December 20 (RIA Novosti)


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