Protesters in Minsk and Brest have reportedly clashed with security forces following the closure of polls in Belarus' presidential election on Sunday, August 9. Military units and equipment have been deployed in the capital and access to squares and government buildings in central Minsk cordoned off. Transport systems have shut down and roads in and out of the city have been blocked. In Minsk, security forces reportedly used rubber bullets and batons in an attempt to disperse the crowd, with social media sources indicating that a police van was deliberately driven into protesters. Clashes were also reported in Brest, where security forces allegedly used tear gas against protesters. Local media sources indicate that Brest has also been placed under lockdown, with all access roads blocked.
Major disruption to telecommunications have been reported in Belarus throughout the day, and journalists and observers have been detained.
Exit polls show that President Alexander Lukashenko has won around 80 percent of the vote, which would see him elected for a sixth term. The election has been marred by allegations of corruption and vote fixing.
Further protests are likely in the near term, as is a heightened security presence in Belarus' main cities. Continued disruption to telecommunications and transportation are to be expected over the coming days.
President Alexander Lukashenko is currently seeking a sixth term in office. The likelihood of Lukashenko's victory has been increased by the barring of the two main rivals - Valery Tsepkalo and Viktor Babariko. However, the run-up to the election has seen increased opposition protest activity. The main opposition candidate is Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who ran following the arrest of her husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky, in May. Rallies in support of Tikhanovskaya have attracted thousands of attendees in Minsk and major cities across the country.
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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