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Analysis: Now for the hard part after Lukashenko victory

wrahn Contributor

(Reuters) – Winning a fourth presidential term in a vote marred by the harsh suppression of opposition protests may have been the easy part for Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko.

Bulging external deficits threaten the economic basis of Lukashenko’s 16-year-old grip on power, but he won a pre-election reprieve by patching up ties with former colonial master Moscow and winning a sweetheart deal on energy imports.

That means the 56-year-old leader may be able to ride out European criticism of the conduct of Sunday’s election, the harsh crackdown on street protests and the detention of rival candidates.

Yet, even if Lukashenko reckons he can get by without the European Union opening its checkbook, he has no choice but to open up Belarus's Soviet-style command economy to sustain his rule.

Full storyL Analysis: Now for the hard part after Lukashenko victory | Reuters.