Inside Story

Belarus longtime leader claims sixth term by a landslide

President Alexander Lukashenko set to extend time in office but violence spreads as opposition rejects official results.

His critics describe him as “Europe’s last dictator”. Alexander Lukashenko, who has already been president of Belarus for 26 years, is set to rule for a sixth term. 

Official results from Sunday’s election say he won by a landslide – but the opposition says the election was rigged.

Lukashenko’s pre-election popularity fell because of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the worsening economy.

He faced his toughest election challenger so far: Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

The former teacher and stay-at-home mother with no political experience attracted huge support.

That was despite a crackdown on election rallies and on other opposition candidates who were either jailed or barred from campaigning.

Protesters battled with riot police in the capital, Minsk, on Sunday.

So, how different is the election this time?

And how is it viewed in Russia and Europe?

Presenter: Sami Zeidan


Peter Zalmayev – Executive director of the Eurasia Democracy Initiative

Alex Kokcharev – Principal research analyst, specialising in Russia and Eastern Europe, at the risk consultancy IHS Markit

Ryhor Astapenia – Robert Bosch Stiftung Academy fellow at Chatham House