When news that Belarus’s President Alexander Lukasenko, who had been in power for 26 years, won the presidential election on the 9th, protesters and police collided in several cities, including the capital Minsk.
In Minsk, police used flash bombs to disperse crowds gathered in the main street. News of the injury also came.
In the exit survey of the state-run broadcasting company, it was found that President Lukashenko received almost 80% of the votes. Representative opposition candidate Svetlana Tihanovskaya said he did not trust the results of the exit poll, which had a 7% vote.
Candidate Tihanovskaya said at a press conference on the evening of the 9th, “I believe in what I have seen. And I saw that most of them were on our side.”
The opposition party said it expected votes to be fabricated and that they would count the votes individually.
Tahanovskaya, 37, ran for her imprisoned husband and led a massive opposition rally.
Lukasenko, who has been in power since 1994, said he would maintain domestic order.
Ahead of the presidential election, amid the largest opposition rally in Belarus in recent years, repression of activists and reporters occurred.
What is the current situation in Belarus?
In Minsk, protesters and police clashes were reported late on the 9th near the monument to the Heroic City of Minsk in downtown.
Witnesses and reporters say police riots used rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse the protesters.
Several ambulances were seen being dispatched to the scene.
Videos of protesters fighting the police in Minsk were released, and media reports reported that many people were arrested.
Protesters on the street shouted at President Lukashenko, “Stay back”.
Similar protests took place last night in other Belarusian cities, Brest and Jodino.
Internet monitoring group Netblox said earlier that a “information gap” occurred amidst the worsening situation on the 9th due to “severe disruption” of Internet connections across Belarus.
The reason for the protests
Belarusian President Lukashenko, 65, often referred to as’the last dictator of Europe‘, was first elected president in 1994.
He won the 2015 presidential election with 83.5% of the vote. There were no strong competitors, and voting observers raised issues during the counting process.
This year’s presidential election was held amid growing dissatisfaction with his leadership.
Tihanovskaya, who emerged as a dark horse during the presidential campaign, was a full-time housewife who was a former teacher and suddenly made her politics debut.
When his husband was arrested and unable to register as a candidate, he ran for him.
Before the election, he told the BBC that people in Belarus do not see the presidential election fair.
“But I still believe that our President will accept that his time is over. The people don’t want him anymore.”
President Lukasenko dismissed Tihanovskaya as a “poor young woman” controlled by foreign powers.
Despite the government’s ongoing opposition party crackdown, in Minsk last month, tens of thousands of people gathered at the opposition rally, the largest rally in the last decade.
More than 2,000 people have been detained since the campaign began in May, the Vias9 Human Rights Center says.
On the eve of the election day before the presidential election, the president of Tihanovskaya election camp said that the predecessor was arrested and that he would not be released until the 10th.
As voting began on the 10th, Internet connections were “seriously disrupted,” said Internet monitoring group Netblox . Opposition supporters say this has made it harder to secure and share evidence of election fraud.
As the observers were already disallowed to observe the election and more than 40% voted in advance before the election day, there were concerns that proper monitoring was impossible.
Who were the other candidates?
There were three other candidates.
• Anna Kanopatsskaya: a former legislator who won a parliamentary election in 2016, a rare opposition
• Sergey Cherechen: Head of the Social Democratic Party
• Andrey Dmitryev: co-chair of the’tell the truth’ movement that was oppressed by the authorities
Two major opposition officials were not allowed to run, and they gave power to the Tihanovskaya election camp.
One of them, Valery Cekalo, left Belarus before an election campaign for fear of arrest. His wife, Veronica, remained in Belarus and became a key figure in the Tihanovskaya camp.
On the 9th, news was reported that Veronica Cecalo also left Belarus for “safety” reasons and headed for Moscow, Russia.
The government’s response to the novel coronavirus infection (Corona 19) also contributed to public outrage against the Lukasenko government.
The president considered the pandemic to be insignificant and encouraged the public to drink vodka and use the sauna.
Belarus, with a population of 9.5 million, currently has nearly 70,000 confirmed cases and 600 deaths.