- The Belarusan president Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected for a sixth term – extending his 26 years in office – according to preliminary results issued Monday, The Washington Post reported.
- On late Sunday, protesters expressing dissent against the official results broke out in the streets. Opposition have claimed that the election results – which say Lukashenko won just under 80 percent against four candidates – were rigged, The New York Times reported.
- Protesters were met by a strong police response. The Times reported that a police truck injured several people when it drove into a crowd of protesters on Sunday evening. Police “violently dispersed” the protests with tear gas and water cannons and attacked several journalists, according to The Washington Post.
- NetBlocks, an NGO that maps internet access worldwide, reported that internet access in Belarus has been disrupted since Sunday. Meanwhile, videos showing protests and police response have poured out on social media.
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The announcement that Belarusan President’s Alexander Lukashenko won his sixth elected term prompted a fierce backlash from protesters on Sunday evening, which was met with harsh police response and internet outages.
Monday morning, official preliminary results showed that Lukashenko who was first elected in 1995, won the election with 80% of the total votes against four candidates, according to The New York Times. The official tally is expected to be in on Friday, and if officially elected, this will be Lukashenko’s sixth term.
Lukashenko’s main opponent, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, went into hiding on Saturday, after several of her campaign staffers were detained by the police in the days leading up to the election, CNN reported. In a Monday press conference, Tikhanovskaya said she wouldn’t flee Belarus because she believes she is the actual winner, per reports received from polling stations, and her campaign chief said the opposition was ready for “long-term” protests, according to The Post.
Belarus has been marred by decades of political corruption. Opponents of the president have accused him of rigging elections and stuffing ballot boxes.
On Sunday evening, protesters took to the streets to express dissent over the election’s legitimacy. Police responded to the protests by dispersing tear gas and water cannons, according to The Post. The New York Times reported additional incidents of violent police response, including a police truck injuring several people while driving into a crowd of protesters and police officers firing stun grenades on protesters blocking streets. One person reportedly died after being run over by a police vehicle.
Several journalists also reported being beaten and detained by police, according to The Post.
Meanwhile, NetBlocks, an NGO that maps internet access worldwide, reported that Belarus’ internet connection has been disrupted since Sunday, creating an “information vacuum as citizens struggled to establish contact with the outside world.” The Washington Post reported that on Monday Lukashenko cited “foreign interference” for shutting down the internet.
—NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) August 9, 2020
Despite the frequent outages, some photos and videos showing protests and police response emerged on social media via Twitter and the Telegram messaging service.
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