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.
Police, protesters clash after Belarus presidential vote
  • 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.