Belarus Opposition Leader Flees to Lithuania After Challenging Election Result

Date: 2020-08-12 00:26:15

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Top Belarusian opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said on Tuesday she fled Belarus “independently” for her own safety and the safety of her children amid a massive police crackdown on protests following the country’s presidential election.

Tsikhanouskaya posted a video from Vilnius in neighboring Lithuania saying she had made “a very difficult decision for myself” outside the influence of friends and family.

She previously dismissed the official results of Sunday’s election showing authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko winning a sixth term by a landslide.

Thousands of opposition supporters who took part in two straight nights of demonstrations met with a tough police crackdown in Minsk and several other Belarusian cities.

Tsikhanouskaya urged people to “take care” and said what was happening in Belarus was “not worth any life”.

On Monday, a protester died amid the clashes in Minsk and scores were injured as police used tear gas, flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the demonstrators.

Tsikhanouskaya, a 37-year-old former English teacher without any prior political experience, entered the race after her husband, an opposition blogger who had hoped to run for president, was arrested in May.

She has managed to unite fractured opposition groups and draw tens of thousands to her campaign rallies – the largest opposition demonstrations in Belarus since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

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