A group of armed individuals entered and searched the offices of the Russian internet services company in Minsk, capital Belarus, on Thursday, the fourth day of unrest caused by re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko.
The company’s spokesperson, Yandex, told NBC News on Thursday that the armed people, whom they have not identified, are in their offices. The company has “reviewed the situation,” he said, without providing further details.
It is not clear whether these people are government security officers or the police. NBC News has reached out to the Ministry of the Interior and the country̵7;s investigative agency for comment.
Protests have been raging in Minsk and other cities since Lukashenko, who has ruled the country for 26 years, won with 80% of the vote. The runner-up, opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, has now fled to Lithuania.
The opposition called the election a fraud shortly after early polls reported Lukashenko’s massive lead on Sunday. Since then, thousands of people across the country have taken to the streets to protest.
Security forces clashed with some protesters, using tear gas, rubber bullets and grenades to stun the scene in the face of widespread internet and phone outages. The Ministry of the Interior said thousands of people were detained, and dozens of protesters and police were injured. A protester died on Monday in Minsk.
As tensions continued to smolder, hundreds of women, dressed in white and carrying flowers, formed “long lines of unity” with protesters on Thursday. Some carry banners that say “We are together” in Belarusian. The restrained police immediately disbanded them.
The government’s crackdown on protesters has attracted fierce criticism from its European neighbors, the US and the United Nations.