Moscow, 19 October 2000 (RFE/RL) - Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka today thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for not interfering with the recent elections in Belarus. Lukashenka said: "I want to thank you publicly in front of the journalists, for this wonderful attitude that Russia took during all the political events of ours. You know how bad the pressure was." Putin answered: "We do not interfere in internal affairs." Lukashenka: "No you didn't interfere and it was a big help for us." Putin and Lukashenka today began a two-day summit in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi. Putin did not echo remarks by the Russian Foreign Ministry, which said yesterday it believed the elections were valid and generally fair.
The United States and the OSCE criticized Sunday's poll. They said it was not free, fair or transparent.