Saturday 17 March 2018

Shaky economy rocks Lukashenko's grip

Lidia Kelly in Minsk

Winning a fourth presidential term in a vote marred by the harsh suppression of opposition protests may have been the easy part for Belarus's Alexander Lukashenko.

Bulging external deficits threaten the economic basis of Lukashenko's 16-year-old grip on power, but he won a pre-election reprieve by patching up ties with former colonial master Moscow and winning a sweetheart deal on energy imports.

That means the 56-year-old leader may be able to ride out European criticism of the conduct of Sunday's election, the harsh crackdown on street protests and the detention of rival candidates.

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