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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Praises Outcome of Disputed Belarus Election

Russia welcomed the outcome of a general election in neighboring Belarus boycotted by the ex-Soviet state’s opposition Wednesday and said criticism by some Western observers exposed their bias.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European Union, which sent only a low-level team of observers to Sunday’s election along with the Council of Europe, has said the poll did not meet international standards. The United States has also said it would not recognize it.

But the Foreign Ministry said in a statement the election was conducted "calmly and in organized fashion." It said criticism by observers underscored prejudices.

"A lack of objectivity in their conclusions, including the fact they ignored Belarus’ progress in meeting its OSCE obligations, demonstrates a politicized and prejudiced approach to justify a policy of isolating Belarus," it said.

"We are convinced that moves to bring Belarussian society up to international democratic standards must be made not through an international blockade, but through honest, constructive dialogue with all real political forces in the country."

Belarus and Russia are working to forge a union state and Moscow has tended to stand by Minsk.

The ministry noted only minor irregularities and pointed to a turnout of 60.6 percent as evidence the poll was valid, though the figure was short of the required 50 percent in 14 districts.

The ministry quoted some observers as noting that Belarus had made progress in electoral law and hoped the new parliament would be admitted to the OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly.

The West has isolated Belarus since President Alexander Lukashenko dissolved parliament in 1996. He appointed a new compliant assembly and extended his powers and term of office.

The liberal and nationalist opposition refused to take part in the election on grounds that Lukashenko’s vast powers made the legislature meaningless.