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Erdoğan one of the first leaders to congratulate Belarusian strongman for electoral victory

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has become one of the first world leaders extending congratulations to Aleksandr Lukashenko on his self-declared victory in the controversial 2020 presidential election in Belarus.

“I would like to express my confidence that the relations between our countries and our close cooperation will continue developing in all the sectors on the basis of mutual respect and interests thanks to our joint efforts,” Erdoğan said in a written message, according to the BeITA news agency.

Poll results gave Lukashenko 80 percent of the vote, but there have been numerous claims of fraud, BBC reported.

Violent clashes between police and protesters have broken out over the two nights since the election was held, and there have been numerous reports of police brutality.

Lukashenko, 65, who has ruled the former Soviet country since 1994, has described opposition supporters as “sheep” controlled from abroad.

Belarus’s main opposition leader says she took a “very difficult decision” to leave the country after disputing an election result she claimed was rigged.

In a YouTube video, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said she did it for her children as protests continued for a second night. One person has died.

A second video, apparently filmed when she was detained on Monday, has also been released.

She was “safe” now in Lithuania, the country’s foreign minister said.

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