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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belarus Sets Presidential Poll Date

MINSK, Belarus -- The Belarus parliament voted Wednesday to hold the former Soviet republic's first presidential elections June 23.

At least three leading politicians are likely contenders -- conservative Prime Minister Vyacheslav Kebich, Alexander Lukashenko, who is heading an anticorruption probe and liberal former leader Stanislav Shushkevich, ousted by parliament in January.

Another declared candidate is Count Alexander Prushinskya, a wealthy Canadian of Belarussian origin. Zenon Poznyak, head of the nationalist Popular Front, is also a possible candidate.

The country's current leader, parliament chairman Mechislav Grib, has not announced whether he intends to run.

Kebich has the backing of most of Belarus' conservative parliament and government structures. Lukashenko has won popularity with his anticorruption crusade and Shushkevich is still widely respected for championing liberal causes as the country's first post-independence leader.

Prospective candidates must gather 100,000 signatures or win approval of 70 parliament members to run for office.

Belarus, one of the most conservative former Soviet republics, is suffering from stagnant production, fuel shortages and severe inflation.