MINSK, Belarus - The authoritarian leader of Belarus was declared the winner of an election condemned by international monitors and his challengers, as police Friday rounded up carol-singing protesters near the prison where most of the challengers are held.
The Central Election Commission said President Alexander Lukashenko won 79.6 percent of Sunday's vote. His nearest challenger, Andrei Sannikov, got 2.4 percent - and was beaten and jailed after the vote, along with six other presidential candidates and hundreds of protesters.
Club-wielding riot police dispersed and beat 10,000 demonstrators protesting voting fraud Sunday.
Representatives of the opposition candidates rejected the official results. Sannikov's representative, Yuri Khadyko, urged the election commission to void the vote because of fraud and call a new one, but it ignored his demand.
Sannikov and his wife, a prominent journalist, are still jailed. Policemen tried to take their 3-year-old son and put him into an orphanage, but his grandmother went into hiding with the boy, the Vyasna rights center said Friday.
International observers and Western governments accuse Lukashenko of using fraudulent counting and violence against opposition protesters to keep himself in power.
"A monstrous system of falsification has been created in this country, and you are all accomplices of that," Ales Lagvinets, representing opposition candidate Grigory Kostusev, told the commission.
Late Friday, a dozen protesters sang carols and lit candles in front of the prison in central Minsk where most of the jailed candidates and activists are being held. Within minutes, riot police detained the protesters, forcing them into police trucks.
Lukashenko, 56, in power since 1994, has served three terms. He allows no independent broadcast media, keeps 80 percent of Belarus's industry under Soviet-style state control, and suppresses opposition with police raids and pressure.
Russia has provided cheap oil and gas to Belarus, a policy that keeps the former Soviet republic of 10 million bordering Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic nations within its sphere of influence.