According to the first exit poll, Aleksandr Lukashenko has won the Belarusian presidential election, as expected. The current autocratic ruler could count on more than 79 percent of the vote. His popular challenger Svetlana Tichanovskaja reaches less than 7 percent according to this quick estimate. She refuses to acknowledge the result.

According to exit polls, Lukashenko achieved a massive victory of 79.7 percent of the vote for his sixth term. Tichanovskaya received 6.8 percent of the vote, according to the same polls.

Tichanovskaya says through her spokeswoman that “the majority is on our side.” “We cannot acknowledge such an election result.” The opposition called on citizens to protest against electoral fraud. Despite the presence of a large number of security forces, many people gathered in Minsk and other cities.

Local media reported mass arrests and police brutality against peaceful civilians on Sunday evening. Military vehicles line the entrances to the city center in Minsk to prevent people from protesting.

Hardly anyone believes it was fair. Lukashenko, who came to power in 1994, typically won with percentages known only from North Korea. There was never any serious opposition.

While most polling stations closed at 8pm (5pm GMT), some were allowed to stay open due to the crowds. “I hope the vote will end without any problems,” said the chairman of the election committee, Lidia Ermochina, on the public broadcaster.

Lukashenko is Europe’s longest-serving leader. In the early 1990s, the unknown sovkhoz director appeared like a devil out of a box in Belarusian politics. Initially he focused on anti-corruption. His populist rhetoric was well received by voters in the impoverished ex-Soviet republic. In a few years, Lukashenko made short work of the opposition in his own country. Some former supporters ended up in prison, others disappeared. without a trace.

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