Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. According to a poll, Alexander Lukashenko is on the verge of re-election with almost 80% of the vote.
Tensions have risen further in Belarus, following a tense presidential election between President Alexander Lukashenko and Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Shortly after the announcement of an official poll that gave the outgoing president almost 80% of the winners, critics of power gathered on Sunday, August 9, by thousands in various places in Minsk, despite warnings from authorities who had deployed a major insurgency control system.
Belarussian police then stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck.
The Interior Ministry assured that it had “the situation under control”, while several media outlets, including radio funded by the US RFE / RL, reported the use of rubber bullets. They released pictures of injured protesters, blood flowing from their faces.
A “disproportionate” use of force was condemned
Ales Bialiatski, head of the NGO Viasna for human rights, condemned for AFP a “disproportionate” use of force by the police.
Opposition rallies, theater in places with muscular police operations, also took place, according to local media, in provincial towns including Brest, Pinsk, Gomel and Grodno.
By putting his vote in the ballot box earlier on Sunday, President Alexander Lukashenko had promised that there would be no “loss of control” or “chaos” in the country.
The election campaign was marked by an unprecedented mobilization in favor of a newcomer to politics, Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa, an educated English teacher who could attract crowds. On Sunday night, she estimated that the “majority” of her citizens supported her, while the official poll conducted at the election at the end gave her 6.8% of the vote, compared to 79.7% for Alexander Lukashenko.
Official results were expected overnight from Sunday to Monday. According to official figures, the election amounted to 84.5%.
“Shameless fraud” was condemned by the opposition
Voting day was marked by a strained atmosphere and huge queues at the polling stations, which the nomination committee described as “sabotage” of the presidential election and “provocation” organized by the opposition.
Tikhanovskaya had recommended her supporters wear white bracelets and take a picture of their vote to allow for an independent count. “I believe we have already won because we have conquered our fears,” said Tikhanovskaïa, who in recent days has condemned “shameless fraud” organized by the authorities, in the absence of independent national and international observers.
Authorities had doubled their efforts at the end of the campaign to prevent the emergence of Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa. The head of her campaign headquarters, Maria Moroz, was arrested on Saturday as nine other collaborators. In this context, many fear that repression will increase.
Belarus has not held a free vote since 1995. Demonstrations have been held on several occasions.