06MOSCOW2760, MOSCOW CALLS LUKASHENKO’S REELECTION “LEGITIMATE”

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW2760 2006-03-20 15:18 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO5383
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #2760 0791518
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 201518Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2589
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 002760 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/20/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV OSCE BY RS
SUBJECT: MOSCOW CALLS LUKASHENKO'S REELECTION "LEGITIMATE" 
 
 
Classified By: A/POL Bruce Donahue.  For reasons:  1.4(B/D). 
 
1.  (SBU)  The MFA called Belarus' presidential election 
"legitimate" in a March 20 press release.  (Informal 
translation of text in para 4).  According to the press 
release, the election took place according to recognized 
norms of transparency and reflected the will of the 
Belarusian people.  In Moscow's view, the electoral result 
should be respected and Belarus should be left to develop 
democratic institutions at its own pace.  Aside from the 
MFA's statement, there have been no other official comments 
on the election. 
 
2.  (C)  The Russian press generally stuck to a 
straightforward description of the election results. 
Izvestiya reflected the general tenor of press coverage by 
noting that there had been "no doubt" Lukashenko would win, 
especially since he had made sure there were no real 
challengers.  Business-oriented Vedomosti ironically labeled 
Lukashenko a "loyal and dependable partner" -- as someone who 
can make Putin appear more democratic -- and a predictable 
and safe ally.  Vremya Novostey came closest to expressing 
skepticism about the electoral results, pointing out that 40 
percent of the electorate cast their votes early and noting 
some exit poll results differed sharply from the official 
results.  (Note:  According to initial press reports, the 
well-respected Levada Center found Lukashenko was supported 
by 45 percent of Belarusians while opposition candidate 
Milinkevich enjoyed 25 percent of the vote.  We were later 
told by the Levada Center that there had been methodological 
problems in the polling and the Center did not intend to 
release results.  End Note.)  Vremya Novostey also gave 
sympathetic coverage to the March 19 opposition protest in 
Minsk. 
 
3.  (C)  Comment:  We expect more pointed reactions from 
Russian officials and the press if ODHIR concludes that the 
Belarusian elections did not meet OSCE standards.  The CIS 
observer mission has reportedly already endorsed the conduct 
of the election as "open and fair," which will be used by 
Russian officials to challenge any different conclusion by 
ODHIR. 
 
4.  (SBU)  Begin informal translation of the MFA Press 
Release: 
 
The Belarusian presidential election took place on March 19. 
Based on preliminary data from the Belarusian Central 
Election Commission, 90 percent of voters took part in the 
election.  Approximately 80 percent voted for Lukashenko. 
 
The election proceeded on an alternative basis.  This allowed 
for the results of the vote to reflect the opinion of 
Belarus' citizens, and that is an indicator of the social 
will to move forward along a democratic path. 
 
In Moscow our interest in the electoral campaign in Belarus 
and in the situation around the country during the course of 
the election is understandable.  After all, Belarus is not 
only our closest neighbor, but an ally of Russia and an 
economic partner that plays an important role in our trade 
relations with Europe. 
 
The election was a testament to the high level of civil 
activity among the population, the interest of the Belarusian 
people in stability and the continuation of socially oriented 
policies.  Belarusians clearly expressed their will, and it 
must be treated with respect. 
 
There is a clear basis to consider that the election 
proceeded in accordance with generally recognized standards, 
and the legitimacy of its results are not to be doubted. 
This same conclusion, by the way, was drawn by a large group 
of observers from Russia and the CIS who took part in the 
monitoring mission. 
 
The course of the electoral campaign and the election itself 
confirmed that the development of democratic institutions and 
the strengthening of the bases of civil society in Belarus, 
above all, depend on Belarus' internal processes, and also on 
the harmonious development of relations between Belarus and 
the external world. 
 
End informal translation of MFA Press Release. 
 
 
BURNS

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