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You're reading: Russia praises Belarus vote, rejects OSCE criticism
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Sunday’s vote increased the isolation of Lukashenko, in power since 1994, from Europe and the United States, which have punished his lack of tolerance for dissent with sanctions.

“We are certain that Belarussian citizens were able to make their conscious choice,” a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said.

Russian observers and monitors from a grouping of former Soviet republics found the election “was conducted freely, openly, in a calm atmosphere and with a high turnout,” the statement said.

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