Clashes erupt after disputed Belarus election

Clashes erupt after disputed Belarus election

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Media captionPlusieurs milliers de manifestants se sont rassemblés près d’un monument central dans la capitale biélorusse, Minsk

Protesters and riot police have clashed in Belarus’ capital Minsk and other cities, after a state TV exit poll said long-time leader Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected in Sunday’s election.

In Minsk, the police used stun grenades to disperse crowds in the city centre. There have been reports of injuries.

The state TV exit poll showed that Mr Lukashenko won nearly 80% of the vote.

Main opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said she did not trust the figures which gave her 7%.

“I believe my eyes, and I see that the majority is with us,” she said at a news conference on Sunday evening.

The opposition had said it expected the vote to be rigged, saying it would keep an alternative count of the votes.

Ms Tikhanovskaya, 37, entered the election in place of her jailed husband and went on to lead large opposition rallies.

Mr Lukashenko, in power since 1994, has vowed that the situation in the country will remain “under control”.

The lead-up to Sunday’s poll sawa crackdown on activists and journalistsamid the country’s biggest opposition demonstrations in years.

What’s happening in Belarus now?

In Minsk, clashes were reported near the Minsk-Hero City monument in the city centre late on Sunday.

Witnesses and correspondents say the riot police used rubber bullets and water cannon to disperse demonstrators.

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Protesters say President Lukashenko must step down

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A number of people were arrested on Sunday evening

Several ambulances have been seen rushing to the scene.

Footage has emerged of protesters fighting riot police in the capital, and media reports say a number of people have been arrested.

Referring to Mr Lukashenko, crowds on the streets have been chanting “Go away!”

Similar protests were staged in the cities of Brest and Zhodino.

Internet monitoring group NetBlocks earlier said connectivity had been “significantly disrupted” across Belarus, with the situation worsening throughout the day and creating an “information vacuum”.

The confrontation on the streets of Minsk largely ended after several hours, with the authorities saying that “police are in control of the situation”, state news agency Belta reported.

What’s the context?

Sometimes referred to as Europe’s last dictator, President Lukashenko, 65, was first elected in 1994.

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