Sergei Lebedev, head of the CIS observation team, has defended the violent dispersal of an anti-Lukashenka demonstration that took place in Minsk on the night between December 19 and 20, and hailed Belarus’ election campaign as democratic.
"Measures to reestablish public order in the streets and counteract illegal events cannot be viewed otherwise than lawful," Mr. Lebedev, who is executive secretary of the CIS, said at a news conference in Minsk on Monday.
He accused the organizers of exploiting the "protest potential of youths," noting that authorities in other countries normally respond harsher to similar demonstrations.
Mr. Lebedev said that it had been "extremely illogical" for Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s rivals in the race to call for the street protest before election results were officially announced.
The demonstration had nothing to do with the electoral process and was "just beyond any limits," he said.
Mr. Lebedev hailed the Belarusian election campaign. "All necessary conditions for observation were created, which is evidence of a democratic and transparent election process," he said.
He claimed that observers of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights shared the opinion about favorable conditions for observation. The central election commission "provided all assistance needed and was open to constructive cooperation," he said. "We had an opportunity to monitor all stages of the election campaign."
He said that CIS observers had recorded only minor irregularities incapable of affecting the election’s outcome.
"The CIS mission hasn’t established any facts that could question the legitimacy of the election," he said.
The Belarusian election was "open and in line with the country’s national regulations and universally established democratic standards," the official said. The CIS team is to release its final report on the observation a few days after elections results are officially announced.