Former ambassador to Belarus: These elections felt different
Jaak Lensment, adviser for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former Estonian ambassador to Belarus, said the recent elections in Belarus felt different from those that had come before, as opposition candidates were able to gain considerable support.
After the elections on Sunday, the Belarusian Central Election Commission announced that long-serving president Alexander Lukashenko had received about 80 percent of the votes, with opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who stepped up to the plate after her husband was imprisoned, taking him out of the electoral picture, gaining 9.9 percent.
Critics say the elections were rigged.
Lensment told ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Monday that the situation in Belarus is dire.
He noted: "This situation, where politically motivated acts of violence are used in response to the opposition, is deplorable."
The elections on Sunday felt different, to the former ambassador. "Firstly, because alternative candidates were actually considerable. There have been candidates previously who were relatively unknown. But the candidates now were able to gain wide-scale support," Lensment said.
Lensment said there is no certainty that the figures announced by the Central Election Commission are accuratae.
He explained: "We have legitimate threshold data from different Belarusian representations and the indicators there show the contrary - looks as if Tikhanovskaya gained close to 80 percent of votes and Lukashenko concurrently much less. But surveys were also conducted in Belarus, on Twitter and Telegram. Those also show that Lukashenko would not have received the votes the Central Election Commission is claiming.
"Of course, there are many people in Belarus who are pleased with the current situation and politics. And there are many people whose wellbeing and life depend on if the regime continues. And it is also possible they do not use Twitter or Telegram."
One exit poll of Belarusians living in Estonia put Tikhanovskaya far ahead of the returning incumbent.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste