At least one killed, dozens injured in Belarus clashes

A police truck, carrying demonstrators, making its way through a crowd of protesters in Minsk on Sunday after polling stations closed following the Belarus presidential election. Thousands of people took to the streets in protest after President Alex
A police truck, carrying demonstrators, making its way through a crowd of protesters in Minsk on Sunday after polling stations closed following the Belarus presidential election. Thousands of people took to the streets in protest after President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, won 80 per cent of the vote. His opponents say the election was rigged in his favour.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MINSK • At least one person was killed after being knocked over by a police prisoner van and dozens were injured in clashes between police and protesters after the Belarus presidential election, a representative of rights group Spring 96 said yesterday.

"There are at least 120 detainees, but this is initial data," the representative, Mr Valentin Stefanovic, also told Reuters.

Thousands of people took to the streets on Sunday in protest after strongman President Alexander Lukashenko looked set to win a sixth term in an election that his opponents say was rigged in his favour.

Mr Lukashenko, 65, has ruled Belarus since 1994, casting himself as a guarantor of stability, saying that the state looks after most of its 9.5 million people's needs in the same way that the Soviet Union did.

Belarusian opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanouskaya yesterday rejected the official election results, saying the vote was rigged and that the protests that had turned bloody on Sunday would continue.

The central election commission had earlier said that Mr Lukashenko won 80 per cent of the vote, while Ms Tikhanouskaya, a former English teacher who emerged from obscurity to become his main rival, took just 9.9 per cent.

Foreign observers have not judged an election to be free and fair in Belarus since 1995, and the run-up to the vote saw the authorities jail Mr Lukashenko's rivals and open criminal investigations into others who voiced opposition.

The streets were quiet in the capital Minsk and other cities yesterday, after violence.

Ms Tikhanouskaya, who entered the race after her blogger husband, who intended to run, was jailed, told reporters in Minsk that she considered herself the election winner. She said the election had been massively rigged.

Her aides said the opposition wanted a vote recount at polling stations where there were problems. They also said the opposition wanted to hold talks with the authorities about how to bring about a peaceful change of power.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2020, with the headline 'At least one killed, dozens injured in Belarus clashes'. Print Edition | Subscribe