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Sun Sep 23, 2012, 09:32 PM

Belarus Votes as Europe Keeps a Watch for Signs That Sanctions Can End

Source: NY Times

Published: September 23, 2012

MINSK, Belarus — Belarus held parliamentary elections on Sunday, though the outcome was hardly in doubt: supporters of President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko have traditionally won, and now hold, all 110 seats in the chamber ...

The campaign provided the first broad interaction between Belarus and international observers since the 2010 presidential election here went badly awry, ending in police beatings and mass arrests. In response, the European Union imposed a travel ban on Mr. Lukashenko and 100 or so senior members of his government, and the lifting of the ban depends in part on the observers’ assessment of the election on Sunday. Results were not expected before Monday.

Opponents of Mr. Lukashenko, always a mercurial figure, say that his modest steps to ease election rules since 2010 are nothing more than window dressing, and that the country, its eccentric leader and his dictatorial form of government remain dismally backward and an embarrassment for Europe ...

By midafternoon on a drizzly election day in Minsk, turnout passed the 50 percent mark needed for the vote to be declared valid. Voters even tramped into one polling station, No. 85, to dutifully check the single name on the ballot. They could vote “yes” or “no.” ...

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/24/world/europe/little-suspense-as-belarus-votes.html

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