The atmosphere in Belaraus is tense following Sunday’s presidential elections with no sign of the tension easing. There were riots and clashes with the police and the army following exit polls suggesting that Alexander Lukashenka had won again by a large margin. At least one person has died and more than a hundred have been detained, but the actual numbers could be much higher. According to the preliminary results provided by the Belarusian election commission, Alexander Lukashenka won with over 80 percent of the votes. His main rival, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, stated that she did not trust the official results and that she considered herself the winner of the election.
The first news about the Bielarussian election results came from the Central Election Commission.
After the election results clearly indicated a victory for Alexander Lukashenka with roughly 80% of the votes, protests began across the country. Demonstrators clashed with the police in Minsk. The situation in the capital city was very tense: riot police stormed the barricades created by the protestors. Demonstrators accused the authorities of falsifying the election results. About 1,300 people were arrested. President Lukashenka, who criticized the riots and allegations of electoral fraud, commented on the protests this morning.
“If you are simply expressing your position or someone else’s, I am glad, I am ready to talk to you personally. But if you provoke, especially on the internet, you’ll get the same in return. Are you trying to overthrow the government? Are you waiting for me to kneel down and kiss you like a little dog? It won’t happen, you have to understand this clearly”, stated Lukashenko.
After the late night demonstrations, the results of individual election commissions began to be published by their chairmen. According to these data, the election was won by Lukashenka’s rival, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, by a 5 to 1 margin.
“At polling station no. 51 in the Okibrasy district, Alexander Lukashenko received 394 votes and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya 1226. At polling station no. 70 in the Pervomajsk district, Alexander Lukashenko received 686 votes and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya 1023 votes”, commented Anna Krasulina, Tsikhanouskaya ‘s spokeswoman.
As Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya admitted herself, mobilization during the elections is the biggest winning point for her.
“I think we have already won, because we have overcome fear, overcome indifference to politics, overcome apathy and indifference. Such victories are more important than all other victories. It is very important in everyone’s life”, she said after the results were announced.
According to the Belarusian media, the country has been cut off from the Internet and cell phones do not work. There is no clear information about the number of victims and injured from yesterday’s riots, information chaos reigns. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki reacted to the situation in Belarus by suggesting that a meeting of the European Council should be convened on this matter.
“The European Union is considering imposing sanctions on Belarus after the events of last night”, tweeted the Polish Prime Minister.
“I would like to remind you that the European Union has lifted sanctions against Belarus because the country has taken steps in the right direction, such as the release of political prisoners. We certainly need to discuss within the Union now whether this might still apply in the light of recent days”, added Heiko Maas, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs.
It is estimated that around 350,000 people took part in the demonstrations during the night of the election.