People are rallying in the streets of Belarus cities after preliminary election results showed incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko winning. Riot police were deployed, making arrests and clashing with protesters.
Lukashenko received 81.35 percent of the vote in the election that saw a record turnout, according to the central electoral commision. Main opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya received eight percent of the ballots, with four percent of voters choosing the “against all candidates” option, official preliminary results showed.
But the opposition candidate supporters disagree with results, claiming it was she who received most of the votes citing results from three precincts and accusing the authorities of fraud
People rallied in the streets of several cities across the country to express their discontent with the results of the election, booing polling stations workers and shouting that they want a change.
In Pinsk, Kobrin, Zhlobin (on video) protesters are in absolute majority. People occupied all the main squares. The question is – what next? pic.twitter.com/JuVuWDzZD5
Hundreds have flocked to the downtown of #Minsk#Belarushttps://t.co/SuVLWnkcIMpic.twitter.com/6Hfj0oJbkY
In the capital Minsk hundreds have flocked to the downtown with law enforcers reportedly using flashbang grenades against the demonstrators who pelted bottles in return. Videos obtained by RT show injured protesters saying they were beaten by riot police. Other footage show demonstrators clashing with law enforcers in the streets.
Минск. Пиротехника пошла pic.twitter.com/6b8tqHVNK5
Столкновения в центре Минска продолжаются. По сообщениям Nexta, «Еврорадио» и «Новая газета» у станции метро «Немига» автозак въехал в толпу протестующих. pic.twitter.com/ZFEB8Ot07s
A clip, uploaded online, shows a large crowd in the capital chanting “You are not Belarus,” addressing President Lukashenko.
Минск сейчас pic.twitter.com/IsJLpSQFSY
Arrests were reportedly made in Minsk as well as in the cities of Gomel, Mogilev and Vitebsk.
There were five candidates running for the highest post in the country, including the incumbent Lukashenko who is aiming for a sixth term. Tikhanovskya, who was largely unknown until she stepped in to replace her husband as a presidential candidate, is believed to be his main challenger. There were many rallies in support of her ahead of the election.
The elections saw a record turnout with many failing to enter a polling station despite spending hours in queues. , but authorities decided that prolonging opening times was unnecessary.
There were also lines at Belarusian embassies around the globe as citizens living abroad were able to participate in the election.
Some 3,000 people stood in line at the Belarus embassy in Moscow, with staff saying that many ran out of time and couldn’t wait to cast their votes.
Lukashenko was accused of cracking down on opposition and media ahead of the vote. On the day of the elections three journalists from Russian opposition TV channel, Dozhd (Rain), who were in Belarus to cover the vote, were detained in the capital Minsk. Russia’s Foreign Ministry later clarified that they were working in the country without proper accreditation. They’ll now be deported from the country. Two local journalists, who cooperate with RT’s Ruptly video agency, were also arrested in the capital, while filming at a polling station. The cameramen were reportedly taken to a police station, with the broadcaster unable to get in touch with them hours after they were detained.
Central Election Commission head, Lidya Yermoshina, there were a lot of complaints about violations, but those were only formal issues “not worth looking into.” Most complaints looked the same and were based on a template uploaded by somebody online, she explained.
Lukashenko has repeatedly claimed that foreign forces are planning to incite violence on the day of the election and destabilize the situation in the country. On Saturday the websites of the State Security Committee (KGB) and the Interior Ministry came under a “large wave” of cyber-attacks, authorities said insisting they were successfully repelled.
On Sunday afternoon military vehicles were filmed military vehicles parked next to the road outside the country’s capital Minsk. The camouflage-painted jeeps were accompanied by police cars.
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