Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s campaign said she fled her apartment for safety reasons after police arrested several senior employees of the organization, in which critics called the attempt to intimidate the opposition before important vote.
Tikhanovskaya previously said in interviews that she had to send her children abroad after she received threats that they would be sent to an orphanage.
“She will not spend the night at home so she is not alone,” Tikhanovskaya’s campaign said. “But she won’t run away from Minsk, she will stay in the city.”
Tikhanovskaya, a former English tutor, has been a surprise rival and rival for the opposition over the past two months after taking over the power of her husband, Sergey Tikhanovskiy, a popular blogger on YouTube and a former candidate. The candidate has been jailed since May.
Tikhanovskaya joined forces with two women running other opposition campaigns after their candidates were also barred from running or jailed.
Her election protests saw large numbers of voters even in small towns in Belarussia not known for their protest activity. The biggest event in the capital Minsk in July brought together about 63,000 people, becoming the biggest protest in the past decade.
On the eve of the vote, Tikhanovskaya̵7;s campaign manager Maria Kolesnikova was briefly detained and taken to the police station for questioning. One day earlier, campaign director Maria Moroz was also briefly held in custody.
Sunday’s main polling day is preceded by a number of early voting days. Late on Saturday, the Central Election Commission of Belarus reported a record number of voters, saying that 41.70% of all voters voted.
Users in central Minsk are having difficulty accessing major internet services and social media networks on Sunday, according to numerous local media reports and a terrestrial CNN chain.
Most apps and websites are loading longer, including Whatsapp, Viber, and Facebook messenger. The Telegram messenger, which serves as the main communication tool for the Belarusian opposition, is sometimes unavailable or only accessible through a proxy server.
NetBlocks, a non-governmental organization that tracks internet shutdowns around the world, said in a tweet that it has recorded significant disruptions in Belarus: “Real-time network data shows social media and Other services are not currently available on many fixed and mobile network operators. “
Lukashenko has ruled a former Soviet republic with more than 9 million inhabitants since 1994. He has long been criticized internationally for suppressing dissidents, and the country’s secret police – still well the so-called KGB – often detains and harasses opposition activists and independent journalists.
Independent observers in Belarus, such as the “Honest People” volunteer monitoring group, said they found a significant difference between the number of officially announced voters and the number of people entering. polling points they can count.
Most independent observers have been banned from following this election. Under the “Honest Men” and “Right to Choose” surveillance initiatives, several dozen independent observers were arrested Saturday and early Sunday.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation Europe (OSCE) in July said it would not send observers to Belarus due to not receiving an invitation from the government and expressed “deep concern at the news. that the prospective candidates were threatened and opposition activists arrested. “
During the preparations for the election, law enforcement appears to have stepped up its suppression efforts as riot police carried out multiple arrests to disrupt improvised anti-riot protests. Lukashenko again. Local media have warned of the possibility of disconnecting from the internet in case protests broke out across the country.
Journalist Mikalai Anishchanka in Minsk contributed to this report.