Lukashenko officially declared winner

MINSK, Belarus, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Officials in Belarus say it's official -- Alexander Lukashenko will remain as president.

The Central Election Commission said Lukashenko is the winner of Sunday's election, which triggered demonstrations and a police crackdown.

Lukashenko won nearly 80 percent of the vote in the election. His closest challenger, Andrei Sannikov received less than 3 percent of the vote, RIA Novosti reported.

"The elections are recognized as valid," the election commission said in a statement. "Alexander Lukashenko is elected president of Belarus."

The inauguration ceremony could be held on Jan. 14, but the date must be confirmed by the president's administration, officials said.

Lukashenko, 56, has ruled Belarus since 1994.

The United States has called him "Europe's last dictator" for his clamp-down on opposition and dissent.

International monitors called the election "flawed."

More than 600 people were detained in the Belarusian capital of Minsk during a crackdown on demonstrators after the opposition said the election was rigged.


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