Autocratic Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko wins 6th term

Autocratic Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko wins 6th term

Helmeted police blocked off streets and at least 10 people were detained in one spot in Minsk, a Reuters witness said, while local media reported detentions and clashes between police and protesters in other cities.

Alexander Lukashenko called demonstrators "sheep" under foreign control and vowed not to allow the country "to be torn apart", after widespread protests greeted his victory in the Belarus presidential election.

"We don't recognize these results", opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, 37, said Monday.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a former English teacher who emerged from obscurity a few weeks ago to become Mr Lukashenko's main rival, won 9.9 per cent of the vote, the data showed.

Huge queues had formed outside polling stations in the capital Minsk and other cities before voting ended at 8pm local time, after Tikhanovskaya urged her supporters to vote late to give authorities less chance to falsify the election.

Two prominent opposition challengers were denied places on the ballot, but Tsikhanouskaya, the wife of a jailed opposition blogger, managed to unite opposition groups and draw tens of thousands to her campaign rallies, tapping growing anger over a stagnant economy and fatigue with Lukashenko's autocratic rule. Anna Kanopatskaya got 1.68 percent, Andrei Dmitriyev 1.04 percent, Sergei Cherechen 1.13 percent, and none of the above 6.02 percent, Yermoshina said.

Fifty civilians and 39 police officers were injured in clashes in the capital, it said.

Russia's RIA news agency cited the Belarusian Interior Ministry as saying that police had detained around 3,000 people during post-election protests.

Belarus holds presidential polls on Sunday (9 August) with a novice opposition candidate posing the greatest challenge in years to long-ruling strongman Alexander Lukashenko.

Preliminary results had not yet been announced, although the election chief had said she expected them in the early hours of Monday.

Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek dismissed Lukashenko's claim, saying his country has not organized any protests. "I want them to have a future", said another protester.

Paet said Lukashenko knows his back is against the wall but an end to his presidency might also lead to him losing his freedom or home country, meaning prison or exile in Russian Federation.

The Belarusian Investigative Committee said on Monday it had opened 21 criminal probes into "mass unrest" and using violence against police and detained more than 80 people.

On the eve of the election Ms Tikhanovskaya's team said her campaign manager had been arrested and would not be released until Monday.

"We believe that under the leadership of President Lukashenko, Belarus will make new progress in various undertakings", said Zhao.

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