Gunmen enter Russian company offices in Belarusian capital amid election turmoil

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A group of armed individuals entered and searched the offices of the Russian internet service company in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, on Thursday, the fourth day of unrest sparked by the disputed re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko.

A spokesperson for the company, Yandex, told NBC News on Thursday that armed people, whom they have not identified, are in their offices. The company was “reviewing the situation,” he said, without providing further details.

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It was not clear whether the men were government security agents or police officers. NBC News has reached out to the Home Office and the country’s Investigative Committee for comment.

The protests have rocked Minsk and other cities since Lukashenko, who has ruled the country for 26 years, won with 80% of the vote. The second, opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, has now fled to Lithuania.

The opposition called the elections rigged as soon as the first exit polls revealed Lukashenko’s big lead on Sunday. Since then, thousands of people across the country have taken to the streets to protest.

Security forces clashed with some protesters, using tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades amid widespread internet and cellphone blackouts. The Interior Ministry said thousands of people were arrested and dozens of protesters and police were injured. A protester died in Minsk on Monday.

As tensions continued to simmer, hundreds of women, dressed in white and carrying flowers, formed long “lines of solidarity” with protesters on Thursday. Some carried banners in Belarusian “We are together”. The police refrained from dispersing them immediately.

The government’s crackdown on protesters drew sharp criticism from the country’s European neighbors, the United States and the United Nations.

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