On 9 August, presidential election day, clashes broke out across Belarus as riot police used rubber bullets, flash grenades, teargas and water cannon to quash protests. Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled for 26 years, claimed he had won a landslide victory in an election marred by accusations of vote-rigging. The election commission announced the next day that he had taken 80.23% of the votes while his main opposition challenger, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who has held some of the country’s largest political rallies since the days of the Soviet Union, had only 9.9%.
Hanna Lubakova, a Belarusian journalist, tells Rachel Humphreys what it has been like covering the protests over the past few days, while the Guardian’s Moscow correspondent, Andrew Roth, discusses how Lukashenko has remained in power for so long. Meanwhile, Tikhanovskaya has left for Lithuania. Vocal critics of the government say she was blackmailed, pointing to a trend, stretching back more than a decade, of putting pressure on opposition politicians and their families.
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