Belarus orders closure of OSCE office after an election its observers call rigged

By: The Associated Press

MINSK, Belarus - Belarus' government says it has refused to extend the mandate of the Minsk office of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The decision comes after the OSCE's election observers accused President Alexander Lukashenko of using fraudulent counting in the Dec. 19 election to win almost 80 per cent of the vote.

In announcing Friday's decision, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said the OSCE office in Minsk is being closed because it has "fulfilled its mandate."

The closure is further evidence that the authoritarian president has turned his back on the West after modest efforts to improve relations.

His hand was strengthened when he reached a deal with Russia on oil exports that amounts to a $4 billion subsidy of Belarus' economy.


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