'Zhririnovsky of Belarus' set to win: Outspoken populist heading for victory in first election for president in former Soviet republic

Click to follow
The Independent Online
MINSK (AP) - A fiery anticorruption crusader appeared to be heading for a landslide victory as Belarussians turned out in force yesterday to elect the former Soviet republic's first president.

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.

(Photograph omitted)