Pro-government papers in Belarus welcome the presidential election triumph for Alexander Lukashenko - one hails it as "convincing" whilst another argues it will contribute to building "a strong and flourishing state".
Unofficial figures give Lukashenko over 82% of the vote
Opposition papers point to unrealistic turnout figures, with one saying that the result "hardly amounted to an elegant victory".
Several commentators in neighbouring Russia and Ukraine seem to accept the Lukashenko win and prefer to ask why the Belarus opposition fared so badly.
BELARUSSIAN PRO-GOVERNMENT SOVETSKAYA BELORUSSIYA
No sensation has taken place! Few had any initial doubts about Alexander Lukashenko's convincing victory in the presidential election. Even his opponents share this viewpoint.
BELARUSSIAN PRO-GOVERNMENT NARODNAYA HAZETA
It is important that the Belarussians not only voted for the incumbent, but by doing so espoused the political course aimed at building a strong and flourishing state for the people.
BELARUSSIAN OPPOSITION BUSINESS WEEKLY BELORUSY I RYNOK
Although the presidential election results unveiled on 19 March held few surprises, they hardly amounted to 'an elegant victory'. The hysteria whipped up by the authorities in the run-up to the presidential ballot goes to show that things in the calm and tolerant Belarus are not as straightforward as hitherto thought. It can be assumed that the 2006 presidential election in Belarus might trigger significant shifts in the perception of all key elements of society or has already done so.
BELARUSSIAN OPPOSITION WEEKLY BELGAZETA
On the morning of 19 March, when the Belarussian people was about to make its historic choice, all Belarussian television channels carried the following two pieces of news. The first report said that as of 10 am, 40% of people had cast their votes. The second report quoted an exit poll... saying that Lukashenko got 83.5% of the vote. After such a 'bracing morning' only an election observer from the Commonwealth of the Independent States could have hoped for any intrigue.
BELARUSSIAN KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA V BELORUSSII
It became clear from the start that the authorities not only intended to hold on to power but also notch up a record. The initiative group of the incumbent collected an impossible number of signatures (1.9m, up from 400,000 in 2001). More than 31% of Belarussians chose to take part in early voting (twice the 2001 percentage).
VLADIMIR VORSOBIN IN RUSSIA'S KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA
To the great relief of the Kremlin and annoyance of the West, everything is again clear in Belarus. Even the most hopeless dreamers can relax. Yesterday Alexander Lukashenko won 81% of the votes and extended his presidency for another five years. As a minimum.
ALEXANDER RAHR IN RUSSIA'S ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA
Any pressure on Belarus will cause a harsh counter-reaction from Moscow. I think that in Europe this is understood better than in the US. In the European Union no-one wants to get into a conflict with Russia over Belarus.
ALEKSEY ARBATOV IN RUSSIA'S NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA
A falsification of the results most likely took place - there is no such thing as a 93% turnout at free elections... Therefore no-one in Europe or in Russia believes these elections... Had an opposition leader won, Russia could have run into serious complications - like the ones currently experienced with Ukraine, or even bigger.
UKRAINE'S FAKTY I KOMMENTARII
Not a single complaint was received by the Central Electoral Commission as of Monday morning concerning the election organisation or vote count. Even Western observers had to admit that there was no need for Lukashenko to rig or falsify the vote. The incumbent is very popular with the absolute majority of the local population. Opposition candidates were supported mostly by students and the intelligentsia.
First of all, the socio-economic situation [in Belarus] did not prompt a revolution. Secondly, the margin of 75% between Lukashenko and his opponents is impressive. Thirdly, the Lukashenko regime is much less corrupt than the regime of [former Ukraine President Leonid] Kuchma, and threats from Washington to freeze the foreign accounts of the president's son-in-law and the wife of the interior minister will not scare Lukashenko or his uniformed agencies.
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