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Lukashenko vows democracy, opposition insists on fair polls

Lukashenko vows democracy, opposition insists on fair polls
While President Aleksandr Lukashenko promises the gradual democratization of Belarus, one of the country’s largest opposition parties has announced it will withdraw all its candidates from the parliamentary poll.

“We will use the election campaign as an opportunity to tell voters that Aleksandr Lukashenkois a dead-end, while the exit from this dead-end is free elections,” the leader of the United Civil Party (UCP) of Belarus, Anatoly Lebedko, told journalists on Thursday.

He noted that earlier his party said it would only take part in the elections if "political prisoners" are released, UCP representatives are included in election commissions, and the early vote system is strictly regulated or completely canceled.

“None of these conditions has been fulfilled,” Lebedko stated, as cited by RIA Novosti.

The party plans to withdraw its candidates from taking part in the poll during its congress on September 15, eight days before Belarus is scheduled to elect its lower house, the House of Representatives.

The Belarusian leadership has been repeatedly criticized in the West for its “repressions” against opposition and violation of human rights in the country.

The head of the former Soviet republic, Lukashenko, admits that not everything is perfect in Belarus.

“We are ready to diligently study everything new and advanced, and not only [from Western countries]. But we want to do that without being urged on, threatened and blackmailed,” he stressed.

According to the president, due to Belarusians’ mentality, “they can’t be forced to jump through several stages of development and find themselves in a rosy democratic future.”

The logic of development of all countries shows the need for calm, evolutionary and gradual development, he added.

The statements were made on Wednesday, as Lukashenko was presenting the newly-appointed Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei. His predecessor was sacked on Monday following the “teddy bear” scandal.