Presidential elections in Belarus: protests and police brutality

Mon 10 Aug 2020

Presidential elections in Belarus: protests and police brutality

On Sunday the 9th of August, the incumbent president Alexander Lukashenko declared a win in Belarusian presidential election. An exit poll published by the Belarusian state media puts Lukashenko at 79.7% of the vote. However, these results don't reflect the choice of the Belarusian citizens since elections were rigged.

Early voting began on the 4th of August and ran until the 8th of August. On the 9th of August, turnout was reported to be 84.05% as of 20:00.

A record number of Belarusians applied for civil observation; however, the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) limited the numbers to only five observers. As a rule, these people were representatives of organizations and parties loyal to the government. Independent observers were denied access to the polling stations, mistreated and even detained by police. Neither the Observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) nor the ones from the Russian Federation received the invitations.

Based on the National Exit-Poll, preliminary results are as follows: Alexander Lukashenko - 79.7%, Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya - 6.8%, Hanna Kanapatskaya - 2.3%, Siarhei Cherachen - 0.9%, Andrey Dmitriyeu - 1.1%.

However, the Exit Poll Abroad shows a different outcome: Alexander Lukashenko - 4.24%, Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya - 85.93%, Hanna Kanapatskaya - 0.44%, Siarhei Cherachen - 0.37%, Andrey Dmitriyeu - 0.43%. The Exit Poll Abroad is a project that aims to ensure transparency and fairness of the Belarusian presidential 2020 elections. Projects like this one are outlawed in Belarus because of the legislative restrictions imposed on the political and social polls. The polls were takes in 25 cities U.S. and European cities from 13.248 people.

Additionally, Independent alternative voting platform Golos (belarus2020.org) announced that Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya received 80% of the vote.

Reactions
After state TV revealed the results of an exit poll showing a landslide Lukashenko victory, police forces clashed with protestors in Minsk and other cities all around Belarus. The human rights group Viasna reported that one person was killed in protests and that around 200 people were arrested, including journalists and observers.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Olga Chamadanava announced, however, in an official statement on the social network Telegram that there were no victims, and that 50 citizens and 39 police officers were injured in the clashes, some of whom were hospitalized.

Lukashenko made no announcements since the closing of the voting polls.

Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, who drew tens of thousands of people to her rallies during the campaign, refuses to recognize the preliminary official results and declared herself as a winner of the elections.

On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin's office says Putin sent a telegram to Lukashenko on the 10th of August to congratulate him on winning reelection. Kazakh President Qasim-Zhomart Toqaev's office said he also sent Lukashenka a congratulatory telegram.

High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi condemned the violence that followed the announcement of the results and called for the immediate release of all detained. They also urged the CEC to publish the results reflecting the choice of the Belarusian people.

Germany stated that there are numerous indications of fraud in elections and that minimum standards were not adhered to in the vote.

Sources:  Euronews / BBC / DW / Radio Free Europe 1 / Radio Free Europe 2 / N1Reuters/ EU
Photo: Flickr