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Medvedev Congratulates Lukashenka

Lukashenka won a fourth term last weekend
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has congratulated his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, on winning a fourth presidential term, despite Western criticism that the poll was undemocratic and international outrage over a brutal crackdown on opposition supporters.

Russian news agencies quoted Medvedev's spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova, as saying a formal letter of congratulations had been sent to Lukashenka.

It followed the publicaton on December 24 of the official results by Belarus' electoral commission, giving Lukashenka victory with 79.6 percent of the vote and his nearest challenger a mere 2.4 percent.

Earlier this week, Medvedev described the elections as an "internal affair" for Belarus, in contrast to expressions of outrage by the West over the beating and arrest of protesters and opposition candidates by security forces on December 19.