Alexander Lukashenko, dubbed the 'Belarussian Zhirinovsky' by critics for his populist tactics and outspokenness, outpolled the Prime Minister, Vyacheslav Kebich, by nearly 3-1 in the first round on 22 June. Preliminary results are expected today.
Mr Kebich, like Mr Lukashenko, favours closer ties with Russia as a way to rescue the crippled economy. But he has been hampered by a bland campaign style and partial responsibility for the economic malaise. He has held his job since 1990.
In Ukraine, where a second round of voting for president also took place yesterday, President Leonid Kravchuk, the former Communist who led Ukraine to independence, won a majority, the Tass news agency said. It did not specify if he had mustered the required absolute majority. His opponent, the former prime minister Leonid Kuchma, advocates economic union with Russia.
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