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Belarus in Turmoil as Lukashenko Cracks Down on Protests, Opposition Candidate Flees to Lithuania

HeadlineAug 11, 2020

Belarus remains in political turmoil as protests continued for a second day, leaving one person dead, after incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko was declared the winner of Sunday’s election with 80% of the vote. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, his main challenger, fled to neighboring Lithuania after she refused to concede. At a press briefing before she left, she condemned the brutal police crackdown on protesters, who were met with tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya: “People went out peacefully to defend their voices. Yesterday they made their choice. People had a celebration. And to start suppressing people with harsh methods, literally, in a couple of hours, it is a crime.”

Meanwhile, Lukashenko’s government is ramping up its attack on journalists, assaulting and arresting multiple reporters during the demonstrations. Another person currently behind bars is Vitali Shkliarov, a former campaign staffer for Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama. He is married to an American and had been helping on the campaign of Svetlana’s husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky, who had planned to run for president before he was arrested in May.

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