International monitors say Belarus election neither free nor fair (+video)
The European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe have dismissed parliamentary elections in Belarus as a sham, further isolating the landlocked state from the West.
In Pictures Belarus protests
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
After election officials listed 109 winning candidates for parliament, all from pro-establishment parties, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said the election "took place against the background of an overall climate of repression and intimidation".
Monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said many opposition figures had been blocked from taking part in Sunday's poll.
"A free election depends on people being free to speak, organise and run for office, and we didn't see that in this campaign," OSCE coordinator Matteo Mecacci said.
The rubber-stamp parliament will bolster the power of the authoritarian Lukashenko, who has run the ex-Soviet state since 1994. But the OSCE verdict on the election is sure to increase his international isolation and lock in place poor ties with the West.
"The blatant violations in these elections make it clear to everyone that Belarus is the last dictatorship in the heart of Europe," said Guido Westerwelle, foreign minister of Germany, Europe's biggest economy.
"Together with our European partners we will increase our efforts to push for the release of political prisoners, to strengthen Belarus civil society and to isolate President Lukashenko and his regime even more."
Lukashenko and his inner circle are under travel and other sanctions from the United States and the European Union.
Crackdown on protest
Relations with the West nosedived when he cracked down on street protests against his re-election in December 2010. Scores of his opponents were arrested. Many now either lie low after periods in jail or have fled the country.
Western monitoring agencies have not judged an election in the country of 9.5 million free and fair since 1995.
While not addressing the OSCE verdict directly, Lukashenko said he was always ready to listen to the arguments of Western governments. "But the main thing that is unacceptable to us is unnecessary 'a priori' pressure."
Belarussian election officials made clear that none of the 109 elected deputies represented any of the few moderate opposition parties that had fielded candidates.