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Home / World / Elections in Belarus: Second Belarusian protester dies as UN sounds alarm

Elections in Belarus: Second Belarusian protester dies as UN sounds alarm



Police detain a man in Minsk, Belarus.  Photo: 12 August 2020

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EPA

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Belarusian police have been charged with using violence against protesters

A protester has died in Belarus in police custody, the second death since clashes with police broke out on Sunday over a controversial presidential election.

Officials say the cause of death of a 25-year-old man in Gomel is unclear. His mother says she had heart problems and was held for hours in a police van.

In Brest, police said they used live ammunition when attacked.

The UN has condemned the use of violence by authorities as protests continued for a fourth night.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said police officers reported using excessive force, firing rubber bullets and water cannons, and also throwing stun grenades.

“Reports suggest that more [than] “Approximately 6,000 people have been arrested in the last three days, including staff perpetrators, as well as juveniles, suggesting a trend of mass arrests in clear violation of international human rights standards,”

; Ms Bachelet said in a statement. .

“Even more worrying are the reports of ill-treatment during and after detention,” she added, calling for the release of all those who have been illegally detained.

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Media titleA BBC team in Minsk encountered violent scenes Monday night

At least 200 protesters were injured, some seriously. A BBC crew was also attacked by police on Tuesday evening.

The Belarusian Interior Ministry had earlier said a demonstrator had died when an explosive device was detonated in the capital, Minsk, on Monday.

On Wednesday evening, more clashes were reported as protesters were marching back to Minsk and other Belarusian cities. The numbers on the street seem to be smaller than during the previous nights.

The protests erupted hours after Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, was declared the winner of Sunday’s vote, which was condemned by the EU as “neither free nor fair”.

The main opposition rival, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, was briefly held before fleeing to neighboring Lithuania.

What is known about the death of the protester in Gomel?

A 25-year-old man died Wednesday in the southeastern city, Belarus’ Investigative Committee was quoted as saying by the Belta news agency.

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Women in Minsk rallied Wednesday in support of detained protesters

The committee said the man was arrested Sunday and later sentenced to 10 days in prison for participating in an illegal protest.

He was taken to hospital when he began to feel unwell – but later died, the committee said. The incident is being investigated.

The mother of the protester told Radio Free Europe that her son had not taken part in any protest and was arrested while he was going to see his girlfriend.

How has the world reacted?

Mr Lukashenko won 80% of the vote Sunday, according to election officials, but there were widespread allegations of vote rigging.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Belarusians had shown “a desire for democratic change” in the election campaign.

  • How the protests shook the elections

Sweden’s foreign minister said EU foreign ministers would meet on Friday to discuss imposing sanctions on Belarus.

Lithuania, Poland and Latvia said they were ready to mediate, provided Belarussian authorities stop violence against protesters, release detained demonstrators and form a national council with members of civil society. They warned that the alternative was sanctions.

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Alexander Lukashenko has been in power since 1994

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged that the vote “was not free and fair,” adding that people “should be given the freedoms they demand.”

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier congratulated Mr Lukashenko on his victory, despite friction over allegations of a Russian conspiracy that Mr Lukashenko has tried to link to the opposition.

The leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Moldova and Azerbaijan have sent messages of support.

Has anything happened to the opposition?

When Ms. Tikhanovskaya, 37, went to the election committee Monday evening to complain about the results that gave her only 10% of the vote, she was held in custody for seven hours. On Tuesday morning she had arrived in Lithuania.

She was a stay-at-home mother until she entered the race after her husband was arrested and blocked from voting.

She was one of three women who rallied their resources to lead the opposition. Veronika Tsepkalo left Belarus on election day and Maria Kolesnikova remains in Belarus.

According to an associate, Ms Tikhanovskaya had been escorted out of the country by authorities as part of an agreement to allow the release of her campaign manager.

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Media titleSvetlana Tikhanovskaya: “No life is worth what is happening now”

A second video appeared later that appears to have been made during her detention. The images show her, her head down, nervously reading from a script as she urges her supporters to “obey the law” and stay away from street protests.

Ahead of Sunday’s election, crowds rallied in opposition rallies, with Belarusians partly angry at the Lukashenko government’s response to the coronavirus.

The president has downplayed the blast, advising citizens to drink vodka and use saunas to fight the disease.


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