First elected in 1994, Lukashenka is accused by the West of cracking down on opponents, silencing independent media, and rigging elections.
He has vowed to stamp out any attempt at a popular uprising, like the mass protests against election fraud that brought down the government in Ukraine in last year's Orange Revolution.
Both the European Union and the United States have pledged to toughen sanctions against Lukashenka's administration if the 2006 election proves neither free nor fair.
RFE/RL's World: 2005 In Pictures
A slideshow of images related to the top news stories of 2005 from throughout RFE/RL's broadcast region with links to RFE/RL's reporting.