More than 3,000 people were arrested in Belarus overnight as protests engulfed the country after Sunday’s election, in which incumbent president, Alexander Lukashenko, retained his job with a landslide win.
Around 1,000 demonstrators were detained in the capital, Minsk, with the rest elsewhere in the country, the police said on their Telegram channel.
Protests took place in 33 towns and villages across the country as people gathered on main squares and outside polling stations.
More than 50 demonstrators and 39 police officers have been injured, according to the Health Ministry’s spokesperson.
Human rights activists said earlier that one person was killed in the clashes, but the authorities have denied this claim.
The head of Belarusian Investigative Committee also warned that the demonstrators who attacked law enforcement will face criminal charges, which could see them face prison terms of up to 15 years.
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Large-scale protests broke out all over Belarus after the polling stations closed on Sunday. The demonstrators, who disagreed with the outcome of the vote, clashed with police who employed tear gas, water cannons, flashbang grenades and other means to disperse the crowds.
Lukashenko won 80 percent of the ballots in the election, securing his position as president, which he has been occupying since 1994, for another term. His main rival, united opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, got less than 10 percent, according to official data.
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Tikhanovskaya, who says the election was rigged and denies its results, has called upon her supporters to continue protesting, but to do it in a peaceful manner.
During a media conference on Monday, the opposition figure pointed out that she wasn’t going out onto the streets herself, as it could only “lead to escalation of the conflict.”
The harsh measures employed by the authorities against the demonstrators came as a surprise, Tikhanovskaya added, before making an offer to Lukashenko to engage in dialogue to resolve tensions.
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