Alexander Lukashenko has won a fifth term as Belarus’ president after a landslide victory in the country’s presidential election, exit polls say.
An exit poll indicates that Alexander Lukashenko secured nearly 83% of the vote, state media reports. No other candidate achieved more than 5%.
Alexander Lukashenko has governed the former Soviet republic almost unchallenged for 21 years.
No veteran opposition leaders stood as they were not allowed to register.
They said that the vote would not be free or fair.
Three other candidates were on the ballot paper besides Alexander Lukashenko.
On October 11, Belarusian TV showed President Alexander Lukashenko casting his vote in an election in which he is seeking a fifth consecutive term of office.
He was accompanied to the polling station by his youngest son, Kolya.
Kolya Lukashenko, 11, has accompanied his father on numerous public occasions in recent years.
Critics have accused Alexander Lukashenko and his supporters of preventing the main opposition parties from building any public profile and restricting their access to the all-powerful state-owned media.
This year’s Nobel Literature Prize laureate, Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich, has warned that her country is a “soft dictatorship”.
Svetlana Alexievich said Alexander Lukashenko was a man connected to the Soviet era and was untrustworthy. None of her books is published in Belarus.
Last time a presidential election was held in Belarus – in 2010 – seven of the nine presidential candidates were arrested.
One of them was only released this year following widespread international pressure.
The candidates were accused of various offences, including the encouragement of violent protest and attempting to overthrow the state.
The opposition says that there are no plans for post-election demonstrations similar to those held in December 2010.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko surprised everyone by taking his 11-year-old son, Kolya, to the UN General Assembly in New York.
Kolya, short for Nikolai, was photographed posing with his father alongside Barack and Michelle Obama at a reception for the summit on September 28.
Lukashenko Jr. joined world leaders in the seats of the general assembly hall as his father addressed delegates from around the world.
It was not a one-off “take your child to work day” for Belarus’s ruling family.
Kolya Lukashenko, the president’s youngest son, often accompanies his father on official business, including a visit to Beijing for China’s World War Two commemorations on September 3.
The boy was pictured watching Beijing’s massive military parade alongside the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and lining up for a photo shoot with leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Photo Belarus Presidency Website
There are claims Alexander Lukashenko is grooming Kolya to be his successor. The president denied this and insisted Kolya was so attached to him that he would not go to sleep without him.
Alexander Lukashenko, who is estranged from his wife Galina, illegitimately fathered Nikolai, who was born in 2004. Though never confirmed by the government, it is widely believed that the Kolya’s mother is Irina Abelskaya.
Irina Abelskaya and Alexander Lukashenko, now 61, had an affair when she was Lukashenko’s personal doctor.
Alexander and Galina Lukashenko have two sons together – Viktor, 29, and Dmitry, 25.
Among other recent trips, Kolya Lukashenko went with his father to the United Arab Emirates in October 2014 where they visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
Kolya may be extraordinarily well travelled for an 11-year-old, but some critics have begun to question the increasing impact of all these appearances on his education.
The boy missed a week of school in September this year – the same amount of time that he missed during six months of 2014, according to the Polish-funded, Belarusian-language TV station Belsat.
Alexander Lukashenko’s tight grip on power has brought criticism from the West – with the Bush administration describing him in 2005 as the “last dictator in Europe” at the head of an “outpost of tyranny”.
Human rights groups accuse him of widespread abuses.
Meanwhile most Belarusian media channels are controlled by the government.
Kolya Lukasheno has received special attention in recent years – attending numerous world events and meeting global leaders.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called Azerbaijan’s failure to award any points to Russia’s entry in this year’s Eurovision song contest as “outrageous”.
Sergei Lavrov said the points had been “stolen” from Russia’s Dina Garipova and “this outrageous action will not remain without a response”.
Azerbaijan says it cannot explain how it awarded no points to Russia, when Dina Garipova came second in its phone poll.
Russian voters awarded the maximum 12 points to Azerbaijan’s Farid Mammadov.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has ordered an inquiry into how its votes for Russia apparently went missing.
And the country’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, sitting next to Sergei Lavrov at a press conference in Moscow, called it a “detective story”.
Elmar Mammadyarov said records from all three of Azerbaijan’s mobile phone operators show that Azeris awarded Ukraine’s entry the most votes, followed by Russia’s.
Azerbaijan says it cannot explain how it awarded no points to Russia, when Dina Garipova came second in its phone poll
“Where did the votes go? How did they disappear? This, of course, is a question for our public television,” he said.
Sergei Lavrov said he and his counterpart had agreed they should take a “unified course of action” once the reasons for the discrepancy became clear.
A spokesman for the European Broadcasting Union, which runs the Eurovision Song Contest, said the phone vote was not definitive. A national jury in each country also contributes 50% of the final decision, the Associated Press reports.
Despite the high-level political interest, 10 points for second place from Azerbaijan would not have made any difference to Dina Garipova’s fifth place, since she finished 17 points behind Norway.
Azerbaijan, which hosted last year’s contest, has traditionally tried to maintain good relations with Moscow though there have been tensions over energy in the past.
Meanwhile, the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has weighed in with his own accusations. Suspicious that the Belarusian singer did not receive a single point from Russia, he has claimed that the final was falsified.