Protests in Belarus: Here’s a look at what’s happening and why – National

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The violent protests against the election results that confused Belarus for nearly a week continued on Saturday.The protests – which started last Sunday – have left at least one dead and hundreds more injured.

But why are people protesting? Here’s a look at what’s going on.

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Why are people protesting?

The protests began on August 9 after the announcement of the success of longtime Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in his bid for re-election.

The authoritarian president was first elected in 1994 and ruled for 26 years.

However, the results of every election in Belarus since coming to power have been disputed.

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Elections in Belarus “were not free, they were not fair”: Pompeo

Elections in Belarus “were not free, they were not fair”: Pompeo

In this election, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya – a former teacher – became Lukashenko’s main political rival after others opposed to the longtime leader were jailed or exiled.

Tikhanovskaya’s husband – a leading blogger – had thrown his hat off and was considered one of Lukashenko’s biggest contenders, until his arrest in May.

In the weeks leading up to the elections, thousands of people took to the streets of Belarus to participate in rallies in support of the former teacher.

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But despite what appeared to be overwhelming support for Tikhanovskaya, it was announced on Sunday that Lukashenko had won the election in a landslide victory with 80 percent of the vote.

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The results sparked widespread protests. Protesters across the country took to the streets, claiming the elections had been rigged and calling on Lukashenko to resign.

Tikhanovskaya fled Belarus to neighboring Lithuania on Tuesday.

In a video released on Friday, she disputed the results, saying copies of protocols from constituencies where the vote was counted showed her equitably at 60% to 70%.

She urged the government to end the violence and engage in dialogue with the protesters.

“Belarusians will never want to live under the current government,” she said. “The authorities turned peaceful protests into a bloodbath.”

She said she was setting up a coordinating council to ensure a “peaceful transition of power.”










Elections in Belarus “were not free, they were not fair”: Pompeo


Elections in Belarus “were not free, they were not fair”: Pompeo

Demonstrations break out

The biggest of the protests took place in the country’s capital, Minsk.

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It is estimated that around 20,000 people attended a protest in the city on Independence Square on Friday.

While the protests were largely peaceful at first, they descended into chaos as protesters and security forces clashed.

Read more:

Belarusian capital inundated with thousands as anger grows after election

Police reportedly fired tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons and stun grenades at protesters, injuring hundreds.

So far, one protester has died as a result of the protests.










Opposition leader flees after contested Belarusian elections


Opposition leader flees after contested Belarusian elections

Thousands more were arrested during the protests, but in an effort to ease growing tensions, authorities released 2,000 protesters who had already been jailed on Friday.

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What did Canada say?

In a statement released on Monday, Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the country was “deeply concerned about the violence that followed the presidential elections in Belarus”.

“The Belarusian people have demonstrated their desire for democracy through their unprecedented mobilization in recent weeks,” the statement said.

Mr. Champagne said that before the elections, Canada “had expressed concern over the arrests of opposition candidates, prominent Belarusian bloggers and activists for participating in peaceful protests.”

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Canada now calls on the government of Belarus to “show restraint and respect human rights,” said Mr. Champagne.

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And in a tweet on Saturday, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said he had spoken with Champagne about the current situation in Belarus.

“The international community simply cannot remain indifferent to the recent brutalities,” he wrote.

“Swift sanctions against those responsible are necessary.”

Champagne said on Saturday that he had spoken to Tikhanovskaya.

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“I reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to the people of Belarus and that we are closely monitoring the situation on the ground as we consider the next steps,” he wrote in a tweet. “Canada will always represent the people of Belarus.”

What did the international community say?

In a tweet on Tuesday, European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell said elections in Belarus were “neither free nor fair”.










White House “deeply concerned” by presidential election in Belarus


White House “deeply concerned” by presidential election in Belarus

“The EU calls on the leaders of #Belarus to initiate a real dialogue with the society at large and to put an end to the unacceptable violence and the repression of the freedoms of assembly, of the media and of expression,” he said. he writes.

He said the EU would conduct a “thorough review” of its relations with Belarus.

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And on Friday, Borrell said work had started to “punish those responsible for violence and forgery.”

Speaking in Warsaw on Saturday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was discussing the situation with the EU.

He said Washington was monitoring the situation by Belarus hoped “Try to help as best we can BelarusThe people accede to sovereignty and freedom. “










Belarusian police crack down on protests after President Lukashenko slated to win elections in landslide


Belarusian police crack down on protests after President Lukashenko slated to win elections in landslide

The United Nations (UN) also condemned the Belarusian authorities for the violence.

“People have the right to speak out and voice their disagreement, even more so in the context of elections, when democratic freedoms must be respected and not suppressed,” said human rights chief Michelle Bachelet in a statement released Wednesday.

She said the arrests made during the protests were a “flagrant violation of international human rights standards”.

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What did Lukashenko say?

While Lukashenko called the protesters “puppets,” he urged the police to refrain from using unnecessary force.

“If a person falls and lies again, don’t beat them!” ” he said.

Lukashenko also alleged that foreign agitators from Poland, the Netherlands, Ukraine and some members of the Russian opposition were attending the protests.

Read more:

Partner of man who died during protests in Belarus claims police shot him dead

“Do you want me to sit down and wait for them to turn Minsk upside down?” he said. “We will not be able to stabilize the situation afterwards. You have to take a break, pull yourself together and calm down. And let’s restore order and deal with those that’s come here.

However, protesters say this is not true.

“Nobody believes these horror stories about outside forces,” protester Galina Erema told The Associated Press. “We are tired of constant enemies and conspiracies, he usurped power and hasn’t left for 26 years.

“This is the reason for the protests.”

On Saturday, Belarusian state news agency Belta reported that Lukashenko did not need outside mediators to help resolve the situation in Belarus.

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However, he noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed to provide security if Belarus requested it.

–With files from Reuters and The Associated Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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