Street protest erupted in Minsk and other cities of Belarus after authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in Sunday’s presidential elections. The elections have been widely disputed with the opposition claiming vote rigging. Unrest erupted for a third night in a row on Tuesday as security forces fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse protesting crowds. Eyewitnesses reported security forces randomly detaining people from the streets. and diverting traffic. Clashes were reported not only in the country’s capital Minsk, but also in several other cities around the country. At least one protester has died and thousands have been arrested.
Meanwhile, the opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was pressured to depart for Lithuania by the Belarusian authorities. Tikhanovskaya ran for president in Sunday’s election after the jailing of her husband. In a video message that was widely regarded as having been recorded under pressure, Tikhanovskaya urged her supporters not to resist the police and cease protesting.
On Tuesday, the foreign ministers of Finland, Poland, and the Baltic states asked for a snap meeting of EU foreign ministers on Belarus after gathering in Riga.
Lukashenko, often called “Europe’s last dictator” has been in power since 1994. Freedom house, a nonpartisan watchdog group describes Belarus as “an authoritarian state in which elections are openly orchestrated and civil liberties are tightly restricted”.