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Belarusians Gear Up For National Elections Derided By Opposition

Belarusians are gearing up for parliamentary elections that opposition activists are already deriding as a sham orchestrated by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's regime.

The national vote scheduled for September 11 will choose lawmakers for the 110-seat legislature. A total of 488 candidates are running but critics have already pointed to problems they say foretell a rigged vote.

For example, election regulators have barred posters showing candidates' faces, or their names, or even stating which parties are competing.

A report by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said "the process of campaigning is strictly regulated. The campaign remains largely invisible."

Lukashenka, who has ruled the country for more than two decades, is widely seen as wanting a democratic veneer that might help attract Western investment to the country's faltering, Soviet-style economy.

His government earlier this year released all political prisoners and has helped in mediation efforts to end the war in eastern Ukraine.

With reporting by AP, Reuters