Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Belarus election: Police beat protesters as EU condemns vote

August 12, 2020 (BBC Europe) Protesters set up barricades in the Belarus capital Minsk and clashes were reported in several cities on Tuesday night after main opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovskaya fled. A BBC team in Minsk was attacked by police, who were accused by protesters of brutality. Protests erupted hours after Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko was awarded victory in Sunday's presidential vote. The EU said the election was "neither free nor fair". Sweden's foreign minister said EU foreign ministers would meet on Friday to discuss imposing sanctions on Belarus. Mr. Lukashenko won 80% of Sunday's vote, according to election officials, but there were widespread allegations of vote rigging and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Belarusians had shown "the desire for democratic change" in the election campaign. 
Riot police were seen beating protesters in several areas of Minsk

When Ms. Tikhanovskaya went to the electoral committee to complain about the results that gave her just 10% of the vote, she was detained for seven hours. By Tuesday morning she had left Belarus for neighboring Lithuania. Mr Borrell accused authorities of using "disproportionate and unacceptable violence causing at least one death and many injuries". Websites, which have been jammed in Belarus for days, were widely reported to be back online on Wednesday morning. State TV has said little about the protests and two presenters have announced their resignations. There have been numerous reports of police violence, with people seen being pulled out of cars on the third night of unrest. One protester has died and 200 others have been wounded, some seriously. Two thousand more have been detained. 
Protesters have accused riot police of brutality

The brutality of the crackdown has shocked observers. However, official newspaper Belarus Segodnya, said the protest "co-ordinators" had been detained, including one Minsk resident said to have organized the "mass disturbances" from a hotel room.