Second night of clashes over disputed Belarus poll

Second night of clashes over disputed Belarus poll

Protesters rally in Minsk, Belarus. Photo: 10 August 2020

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Demonstrators say the election result was rigged

Police in Belarus’s capital Minsk have fired rubber bullets for a second night to quash protests following Sunday’s disputed presidential elections.

Officials say one demonstrator died when an explosive device went off in his hands – the first confirmed casualty since the clashes began.

Autocratic President Alexander Lukashenko won 80% of the vote.

His main rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya refused to accept the results, saying she was the real winner.

A lack of scrutiny – no observers were present – has led to allegations of widespread vote-rigging in the poll.

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Media captionOn Sunday, people were detained in cities across Belarus

The election was held amid growing frustration at Mr Lukashenko’s leadership, with opposition rallies attracting large crowds. The preceding days sawa crackdown on activists and journalists.

Mr Lukashenko, in power since 1994, has described opposition supporters as “sheep” controlled from abroad, and vowed not to allow the country to be torn apart.

Mr Lukashenko won 80.23% of the vote, according to election officials, with Ms Tikhanovskaya receiving 9.9%.

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

What’s the latest from Minsk?

Riot police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to disperse thousands of demonstrators rallying in the capital.

Polish-based broadcaster Belsat TV aired footage of the police charging into the crowds.

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Protesters clashed with riot police in Minsk

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A number of people were arrested

Reports say some of the demonstrators fought back, throwing Molotov cocktails. Protesters also tried to build barricades.

A number of people were arrested. One journalist was injured, her colleagues and eyewitnesses said.

Later on Monday, the interior ministry said a protester died when he “tried to throw an unidentified explosive device at members of law enforcement”.

“It exploded in his hand,” the ministry said in a statement.

Several metro stations in the city had been closed and the internet was mostly unavailable for a second day.

Protests were also being held in other Belarusian cities.

What did Ms Tikhanovskaya say?

The opposition candidate said that the election results published on Monday morning “completely contradict common sense” and the authorities should think about how to peacefully hand over power.

“We have seen that the authorities are trying to hold on to their positions by force,” she said.

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