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Tens of thousands take to the streets as election protests grow in Belarus

Photo of President Alexander Lukashenko

Tens of thousands flooded Minsk, the capital of Belarus, for a fifth consecutive day of protest against a corrupt election they claimed helped extend the rule of President Alexander Lukashenko.

Demonstrators have been protesting since Sunday, demanding a recount of the ballet that gave Lukashenko a landslide victory extending his 26 years of “iron-fisted” rule.

However, the police moved aggressively to break up the protests earlier this week, using batons, stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets, leaving hundreds injured and at least one killed.

They detained nearly 7,000 of the demonstrators but the government had earlier apologized for the use of force, freeing 2,000 protestors from detention.

Many who were released spoke of brutal beatings, starvation rations inside the cells and other abuse by police with some even showing the bruising on their bodies.

However, the government denied abusing the detainees.


Lukashenko blames foreigners for protest

Lukashenko dismissed the demonstrators as puppets manipulated from abroad and defended the violent crackdown as a response to violence against the police by protestors.

“Don’t get out into the streets, you should understand that you and your children are being used as cannon fodder” Lukashenko alleged.

Lukashenko went on to claim that people from Poland, the Netherlands, Ukraine and some members of Russia’s opposition were fomenting the unrest.

However, the claim of foreign agitation was greeted with disdain by protestors, with one demonstrator, Galina Erema, stating “Nobody believes these horror stories about external forces. We are tired of constant enemies and conspiracies. He usurped power and has not left for 26 years; this is the reason for the protests.”


Read more from Reuters, CTV News, and Al Jazeera

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