Belarusian authorities announced on Thursday, August 13, that around 700 protesters were detained by security forces following nationwide protests on Wednesday evening, August 12, contesting President Alexander Lukasheko's re-election. Thousands gathered in Minsk, Vitebsk, Mahileu, and other Belarusian cities for a fourth consecutive night of protests on Wednesday and some clashes have been reported between the police and demonstrators. In Minsk, protesters carried flowers and formed human chains in an attempt to prevent security forces from approaching. It is believed that a total of around 6000 protesters have been arrested as of Thursday morning, and hundreds of others have been injured, including several reporters and journalists.
Further opposition protests are to be expected in the near term. Protests are likely to be met with a strong response by security forces, with associated disruptions to transportation and business probable.
Election officials announced on Monday, August 10, that Lukashenko had won 80 percent of the vote in Sunday's poll, with the main opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanouskaya gaining 9.9 percent. Lukashenko faced few challenges to his sixth term as president, with his main rivals Valery Tsepkalo and Viktor Babariko being barred from standing. However, the run-up to the election saw increased political tensions and opposition protest activity. Opposition groups have denounced the election results as fraudulent.
Protests following the election have taken place throughout Belarus, with security forces blocking access to a number of cities as clashes with protesters were reported. Security forces have deployed tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, batons, and concussion grenades in attempts to disperse crowds.
Those in Belarus are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all large public gatherings as a precaution, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments, and refrain from discussing politically sensitive topics in public or on social media.
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