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Police, Protesters Clash After Belarusian Election

By VOA News August 10, 2020

Clashes between protesters and police broke out across Belarus on Monday, after the country's longtime president was declared the winner of Sunday's national election.

Alexander Lukashenko, in power for 26 years, said Monday that opposition protesters would face a tough crackdown, describing them as sheep manipulated by foreign masters.

"Follow the law and then all these conversations about repression disappear," he said.
Videos of the clashes show protesters being beaten by police with truncheons Monday night.

Rights groups said one person was killed and dozens injured in a police crackdown on protests that followed Sunday's polls. Several hundred protesters have been arrested. Police used stun grenades, tear gas and water cannon against the thousands of protesters who took to the streets of the country's capital, Minsk, late Sunday.

The country's Central Election Commission said Monday that after all ballots were counted, Alexander Lukashenko took 80.23% of the votes, and main opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya 9.9%.

Opposition supporters, who believe the results were manipulated, plan to gather in Minsk for more protests Monday evening.

Speaking from her headquarters, Tsikhanouskaya said she does not recognize the outcome.

"We have already won because we have overcome our fear, our apathy and our indifference," she said.

International officials also questioned the legitimacy of the election, as well as the crackdown on protesters.

Washington said Monday it was "deeply concerned" by the situation, noting that intimidations and restrictions on ballot access for opposition candidates as well as a lack of independent observers at polling stations have "marred the process."

"We urge the Belarusian government to respect the right to peaceably assemble and to refrain from the use of force," White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.

"Harassment & violent repression of peaceful protesters has no place in Europe," Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, wrote on Twitter.

"I call on the Belarusian authorities to ensure that the votes in yesterday's election are counted & published accurately."

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the organization "condemns violence against peaceful protestors." "Fundamental rights must be respected," he said in a statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Lukashenko Monday on his victory.

Protests were held in other Belarusian cities, including Gomel, Grodno, Vitebsk and Brest, where tear gas was reportedly fired.



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