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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Belarus opposition defiant in defeat
Re-elected Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko
Lukashenko: Triumphant but doomed, say papers
The landslide victory of President Alexander Lukashenko in Sunday's poll does not feature in the country's official papers on Tuesday, but the opposition press has plenty to say.

The government Respublika and Vecherniy Minsk prefer to devote space to a construction expo and criticism of US policy in Israel, happy that the electoral turmoil is over.

The independent papers have accepted the defeat of opposition candidate Vladimir Goncharik, but say Mr Lukashenko is politically doomed.

OSCE's Gerard Stoudmann with Narodnaja Volia newspaper after censorship
Some newspapers were forced to drop stories and publish only white space
"He did it again. An outcast. A jester. The butt of all jokes. The president of Belarus," writes the Belarusskaya Delovaya Gazeta, a business paper.

All opposition papers blame the defeat not only on the government's tight control of campaign resources, but also on the lack of organisation in the rival camp.

"The government machine was tough and omnipresent, as a result of which the independent observers' alternative vote count virtually failed.

"But the voting procedure was so well organised that the loyally minded among foreign observers noticed no foul play," Belarusskaya Delovaya Gazeta says.

Some attribute Mr Lukashenko's phenomenal popularity to the "placid" Belarussian mentality.

Opposition 'failure'

"Belarus is no Belgrade," says the analytical weekly Belarusskaya Gazeta. "It has a different temperament."

The papers acknowledge that the opposition failed to fire up their own supporters.

Belarus is no Belgrade

Belarusskaya Gazeta
"Goncharik failed to claim the presidency," writes the opposition Nasha Svaboda.

"Over 5,000 supporters came to October Square on election night. People stood in the rain, refusing to leave.

"After the Central Commission announced that Lukashenko had got the vote, no more than 1,000 remained."

Belorusskaya Gazeta writes: "People waited for the leader to tell them what to do. Instead they got silence, interrupted only by the cracking noise of police radio.

"The opposition left people dangling," the paper concludes. "Not only was it unable to compete in eloquence, it could not even lose with dignity."

Borrowed time

Despite the opposition's defeat, the independent papers predict a grim future for the victorious Mr Lukashenko.

"Lukashenko is not an evil genius. Nor is he a political genius. He is an actor, an orator possessed by maniacal ideas," says Belarusskaya Delovaya Gazeta.

"Nobody will come to his inauguration," the paper predicts. "As president, he is living on borrowed time. Nobody is afraid of him any more, they only laugh."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

10 Sep 01 | Europe
Profile: Europe's last dictator?
09 Sep 01 | Europe
How the media favours Lukashenko
08 Sep 01 | Media reports
Belarus gays parade in election fever
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