The parliamentary elections swept by government allies in Belarus were neither free, impartial nor competitive, OSCE-led international observers said Monday in a damning indictment of the process.
"This election was not competitive from the start," said Matteo Mecacci, special coordinator of the OSCE observer mission.
"A free election depends on people being free to speak, organise and run for office, and we didn't see that in this campaign."
Antonio Milososki, head of the long-term observation mission, said there were "serious concerns" over the lack of proper counting procedures or ways for the results from Sunday's election to be verified.
"The lack of neutrality and impartiality on the part of election commissions severely undermines public confidence in the process," he said.
The authorities have said participation in Sunday's vote was 74.2 percent but the opposition said actual turnout was barely half that, charging that the official rate was inflated by blatant rigging.
"The continued lack of properly delineated counting procedures meant that an honest count could not be guaranteed," the observers' statement said.
"A significant number of observers were not given a meaningful opportunity to observe the count and evaluated the process negatively in a significant number of the polling stations observed."
The statement described the campaign as "barely visible" where media coverage "focused on the president (Alexander Lukashenko) and government, with minimal attention given to candidates".