International election monitors gave a thumbs-down today to a parliamentary election in Belarus, Russia, saying it was neither free nor fair. Here is Matteo Mecacci at a press conference discussing the election and its impact on free speech.
It is believed that the token parliament made up of loyalist deputies will reinforce the authoritarian Lukashenko, who has run the ex-Soviet state since 1994.
Lukashenko is often described as Eastern Europe's last dictator and his inner circle of officials are under travel and other sanctions from the United States and the European Union because of his heavy-handed rule. His relations with the West nosedived, when he cracked down on street protests against his re-election in December 2010. So this latest move is sure to reinforce the split even further.
Written and presented by Ann Salter.