Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Lukashenka says he would like to gain two-thirds of vote in presidential election

Alyaksandr Lukashenka told a large group of Russian journalists in Minsk on Friday that he would like two-thirds of all voters to vote for him in the forthcoming presidential election.

"I would like two-thirds to vote for me, as this would be a constitutional majority and a manifestation of the highest confidence, some 70 to 75 percent," the Belarusian leader said. "I dont need it to be like the last time, more than 90 percent."

According to the central election commission, Mr. Lukashenka won 83 percent of the vote in the last, 2006 presidential election.

In 2009, Mr. Lukashenka for the first time revealed that more people had actually voted for him in the election than had been reported by the central election commission. "I would have you to know that 93 percent voted for me in the last election," Mr. Lukashenka said in an interview with Russian reporters in August last year. "I then admitted when coming under pressure that we had falsified the election results. I said bluntly, Yes, we falsified them. I ordered that the 93 percent should be replaced with something around 80 percent. I dont remember exactly how much. Because it is psychologically hard to accept a percent higher than 90. It really was like that."

During last weeks live online question-and-answer session hosted by BelaPAN, Lidziya Yarmoshyna, head of the central election commission, reiterated that she was unaware of any falsifications. "Ive repeatedly answered this question and can say once again: the central election commission deals only with official figures reported by regional commissions. These data are voiced for all media and the population of the country on the polling day. I dont know any other information. Neither do I know any manipulations of election results."

Only between 100,000 and 150,000 Belarusians may vote for opposition candidates in the forthcoming presidential election, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said at a meeting with a large group of Russian journalists in Minsk on Friday.

There are 400 "supporters of the opposition" in the country, the Belarusian leader claimed, adding, however, that about 800 people could "openly oppose the government" in demonstrations.

Mr. Lukashenka said that he has a "tolerable" attitude to the fact that representatives of Belarus opposition groups are given the opportunity to appear on Russias television channels, but he does not understand why the Russian leadership has given this opportunity because, according to him, these oppositionists are allergic to Russia.

"These people have received and continue to receive grants from Western Europe and the USA," Mr. Lukashenka said. "Today theyve gotten one more sponsor Russian businesspeople. If someone in Russia has extra money, let him spend it. This is also a sort of investment. Oppositionists may buy something with it in the Belarusian market."

According to Mr. Lukashenka, he is well aware of who financially supports Belarusian opposition groups. "We know this because not long ago we apprehended one of such couriers, who was carrying $200,000 across the border in violation of law," he said. Opposition groups have sources of finance in Lithuania, Poland and Germany, he added.

According to the central election commission, in the last, 2006 presidential election, as many as 405,486 people, or 6.1 percent of the vote, voted for united opposition forces' nominee, Alyaksandr Milinkevich. In addition, 147,402 people, or 2.2 percent, voted for the other opposition candidate, former Belarusian State University Rector Alyaksandr Kazulin. A total of 6,630,653 people out of 7,153,978 eligible voters reportedly cast their ballots. Of them, 5,501,249 people, or 83 percent of the vote, were said to have voted for Mr. Lukashenka.