Moscow – Protesters and police clashed on Tuesday night through Wednesday night as protesters expressed anger over longtime strongman Alexander Lukashenko’s re-election in a Sunday vote that Grandma US Chief Mike Pompeo said “not organized in a free and fair way.”
Hundreds of women dressed in white have gathered in cities across the country to call for an end to the brutal persecution of government forces against protesters who have seen tear gas, batons, Stun grenades, rubber bullets and even real ammunition were used by the crowd, according to BBC News. Several women were photographed placing flowers on the ground and holding hands in “chains of solidarity”;.
About 6,000 people have been detained since Sunday, with almost 200 in need of medical assistance, media reports citing Belarusian officials. A BBC News group was attacked by police. At least one person was killed after an explosive device in his hand exploded.
The opposition is led by women
Officially, the main candidate to run with Lukashenko – Svetlana Tikhanovskaya – received only 10% of the vote, although her supporters say that the 37-year-old mother at home is the real winner.
Tikhanovskaya became the face of the Belarusian opposition along with two other women – Veronika Tsepkalo and Maria Kolesnikova – after her husband, who was planning to run for election, was arrested before he could register for candidacy.
Lukashenko, considered the “last dictator of Europe”, dismissed Tikhanovskaya as the candidate, calling her a “poor little girl” and saying she was managed by water “puppet masters”. in addition, but thousands of people supported her election protests.
Kolesnikova said Lukashenko’s remarks played a role in provoking popular anger.
“Fifty-five percent of the voters in Belarus are women, and you can’t even imagine how outraged them,” she told Russian media outlet Meduza.
“God forbid you will have to face the kind of choice I have to face”
After the results were announced on Monday, Tikhanovskaya, the husband still in jail, filed a complaint at the office of the central electoral commission and was detained for several hours. She then released some confusing videos, which appeared to have been shot under duress.
First, she read a statement urging the people of Belarus to stop the protests “not to put your life in danger.”
In another post, she said, “God forbids you to be faced with the choice I have to face.”
Later that day, the Lithuanian foreign minister announced that Tikhanovskaya had arrived there. An associate said that, as part of an agreement to see her campaign manager released from custody, she was escorted by authorities from Belarus, BBC News reported.
“When all the people around you and your family are hostages, it can be difficult not to be pressured and not to make statements under pressure,” Kolesnikova told reporters on Tuesday.
“Neither free nor fair”
“We want the people in Belarus to have the freedoms they are demanding,” Pompeo said on Wednesday.
He urged the Belarusian government to stop its violent crackdown on protesters and said the United States would “continue to talk” about the risks to Belarusian freedom.
“We call on the nonviolent protesters to be protected and not harmed,” Pompeo said.
Lukashenko accused foreign forces of provoking protests and jamming the internet, which was destroyed across the country during and after the election.
The EU Foreign Minister, Josep Borrell, also criticized violence against protesters in Belarus, calling the election “neither free nor fair.”
“We urge the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all detainees. Moreover, reliable reports from domestic observers show that the electoral process is not responsive.” the expected international standards of an OSCE Participating Country, “said Borrell. “The people of Belarus deserve better.”
Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Ann Linde, said EU foreign ministers will meet on Friday to discuss possible sanctions against Belarus, according to BBC News.
The results of Sunday’s election mean that Mr Lukashenko will serve his sixth consecutive term as president.