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What’s happening in Belarus? A brief explainer about the protests and election

Here’s what you need to know about the Belarus election

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Workers with handmade posters reading “Go away!” march toward the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant where Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko addresses employees in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Aug. 17, 2020.

Workers with handmade posters reading “Go away!” march toward the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant where Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko addresses employees in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Aug. 17, 2020.

Dimitri Lovestky, Associated Press

Thousands of people in Belarus gathered in the streets over the weekend to protest the political crisis going on within the country. But what’s exactly going on there?

  • Security forces and protesters have clashed in Minsk and other cities within the country.
  • These clashes came after President Alexander Lukashenko won a landslide reelection victory. The president won with 80% of the vote on Sunday, Aug. 9, with the opponents earning 10% of the vote, according to NBC News.
  • Lukashenko’s opponents said the election was rigged because of the lack of public support for him, according to Reuters.

  • Large opposition rallies were held before the election with tens of thousands of people turning out to protest the president’s potential reelection, according to BBC News.
  • Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was seen as one of the biggest threats to Lukashenko’s near 26-tear tenure as president.
  • On the night of the election, the spokeswoman for Tikhanovskaya was detained, BBC News reported. It was unclear why the arrest happened.

What now?

  • The president said he would turn over power as a way to “pacify mass protests and strikes that pose the biggest challenge to his 26 years in office,” per Reuters.
  • Lukashenko said Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Ukraine told him to hold a new poll, but he said he wouldn’t do it, according to Sky News. He also said NATO had amassed tanks and planes near the country’s border. NATO denied that claim.
  • According to Lukashenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would provide help and assistance if pressure continues within the country.