Belarus strongman brutally suppresses post-election uprising

Alexander Lukashenko, the Soviet-style leader of Belarus, has brutally suppressed a post-election rebellion, living up to his reputation as "Europe's last dictator."

By Andrew Osborn, Moscow

Thousands of baton-wielding riot police violently crushed an opposition protest in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, on Sunday night thwarting an attempt to storm the main government building.

As Mr Lukashenko's officials declared him the winner of Sunday's presidential election with almost 80 per cent, he sounded a defiant note.

"There is not going to be a revolution in Belarus," the 56-year-old autocrat declared. "What was attempted yesterday (Sunday) in Minsk is banditry."

Mr Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994 making him Europe's longest serving leader, insisted that the vote had been "honest." But international observers and the opposition disagreed. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe declared that the count in Sunday's vote was "bad or very bad" in half the electoral precincts.

The European Union and the United States weighed in with sharp criticism too.


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