Protests erupted against Belarus presidential election results

 One protestor died while 3,000 arrested by police since Sunday

The longtime ruler of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko’s controversial election victory for sixth term triggered the protests on the streets across Belarus. According to official figures incumbent President Lukashenko won nearly 80 percent of the vote.

Following the announcement of this result, violent protests broke out in cities across Belarus, with opposition activists complaining that the results had been falsified. The opposition is alleging the government for rigging the election results.

One protester has died and nearly 3,000 have been arrested so far. The protestor was died in capital Minsk from injuries caused by an explosive device he tried to throw at police, Belarusian authorities has claimed.  

The mass demonstrations against the results of the presidential election continued. Police in Belarus detained 3,000 people for taking part in unauthorised gatherings during post-election demonstrations on Sunday, the interior ministry said, accusing some protesters of sparking clashes with police.

The ministry said in a statement that 1,000 of the detentions were in the capital Minsk and the rest in other parts of the country.

 One of the protesters tried to throw an unidentified explosive device at law enforcement officers. It exploded in his hand” and caused “injuries incompatible with life, a spokesman for the ministry told reporters.

Sputnik Belarus reported that protesters on Pritytsky Avenue used Molotov cocktails to target police. Drone footage on Monday evening showed a large crowd of people blocking the avenue near the Pushkinskaya Metro station, and there were reports of police using flash-bang grenades to disperse them. At some point, a city bus was set ablaze. 

In addition to flash-bangs and rubber bullets, police have used tear gas to disperse demonstrators across Belarus since Sunday. Protesters have also used fireworks and, in some instances, tried to run police over with cars.

Outside the capital, which has seen fierce clashes between protesters and law enforcement, there have also been confrontations in other cities across Belarus. Footage from Brest, on the border with Poland, showed explosions and a standoff between riot police and demonstrators.

hes between police and demonstrators occurred in several Belarusian cities on Monday and Tuesday, after thousands of people took to the streets to protest against Sunday’s presidential election, which saw sitting President Alexander Lukashenko re-elected to a sixth term by more than 80% of the vote, according to the contested official count.

Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who earlier said she didn’t accept the results of an election she said, was compromised by multiple instances of fraud. She had taken refuge in neighboring Lithuania, a member of the European Union.

President Lukashenko, 65, often deemed “Europe’s last dictator,” has ruled Belarus since 1994 and systematically suppressed political opposition and freedom of speech. Many members of Tikhanovskaya’s staff were jailed in the days before the election.

The Belarusian leader has always benefited from the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, although he took pains to insist during the recent campaign that he would not hesitate to stand up to Moscow. But the country’s troubled economy depends on Russia for much of its exports.

Moscow has been silent since Sunday’s election, but could fear that the Belarusian unrest evolves toward a similar situation to that of Ukraine in 2004 and in 2014, when protests against a pro-Russian president led to a change of government. It is unclear what the EU can do if Lukashenko suppresses the protests and remains in power. And it is unclear what Russia would do if he is forced to leave office.

                                                                Khalid Bhatti 

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