Fierce scuffles broke out between police and protesters when thousands of people poured out into the streets of the capital Minsk Monday night after official results showed that Lukashenko had won a sixth consecutive term, taking over 80 percent of the vote. A man lost his life the clashes.
The protesters have complained of election fraud in Lukashenko’s favor, claiming he has stolen the vote from his rival, political novice Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was said to ahve gained only 10 percent of the ballots.
“Too many people are against Lukashenko,” Pavel, a 34-year-old protester, told AFP, adding “Our goal is to depose Lukashenko. He is not worthy of being president.”
Police used rubber bullets, stun grenades, batons and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, who responded with stones and fireworks and set up makeshift barricades.
The interior ministry said a man died when an unidentified explosive device, which he was aiming at police, blew up in his hand Monday night, confirming the first fatality of the post-election protests.
Yevgeny Zaichkin, another protester, who was reported to have died in the early hours of Monday during clashes with police survived the altercation. He told Reuters that he had been transferred to hospital after the beating and discharged earlier in the day with concussion, four stitches and bruising across his body.
Similar unrest and clashes were reported in other towns on Monday.
The president, referred to by some as “Europe’s last dictator,” is facing criticism over his handling of the coronavirus epidemic and an economic crisis in the country.
Lukashenko remained adamant in the face of a chorus of criticism from Western leaders, and signaled there was no chance of him stepping down.
“We won’t allow the country to be torn apart,” the 65-year-old president was quoted by the Belta news agency as saying Germany warns of sanctions over Belarus’ disputed presidential voteGermany threatens to reactivate EU sanctions against Belarus over a disputed presidential vote.
“We recorded calls from abroad. There were calls from Poland, Britain and the Czech Republic, they were directing our — forgive me — sheep,” Lukashenko said, in reference to protesters who aim to topple him.
Tikhanovskaya, who ran for president after her blogger husband was jailed, went to lodge a complaint with the Central Election Commission on Monday where she spent three hours.
But since then her whereabouts were unknown to her team. Her spokeswoman Anna Krasulina told AFP that she had gone incommunicado after she left the election commission building.
Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius confirmed in a Twitter post on Tuesday that Tikhanouskaya has traveled to Lithuania.