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Rights group: Over 120 detained in violent Belarus election clashes

Peter Spinella, DPA on

Published in News & Features

MOSCOW -- Belarusian police violently cracked down on protests that erupted in major cities on Sunday night, as state media said longtime President Alexander Lukashenko was poised to win a sixth consecutive term in power.

Over 50 people were detained in Minsk and more than 120 had been detained nationwide, human rights organization Viasna said.

Some supporters of Belarusian opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya held unofficial election victory celebrations for her in Minsk in the early hours of Monday.

She has refused to accept defeat, as state media said it appeared that Lukashenko had received more than three-quarters of votes with counting still under way, while independent surveys pointed to Tikhanovskaya as leading in the results.

Hours after polls closed, the electoral commission had not published any official results.

As protests broke out in the capital as well as other cities, with tens of thousands people present, Tikhanovskaya called for peace and asked security forces to refrain from violence.

 

"I would like to remind the police and military that they are part of our public," she said, according to her campaign staff.

"I know that the people of Belarus will wake up tomorrow in a new country," Tikhanovskaya said.

Rights group Amnesty International tweeted early on Monday that its staff had witnessed "the use of 6 shock grenades, several shots fired (likely rubber bullets) into crowds" in Minsk. "At least 6 ambulances rush from behind police lines, sirens screaming."

State media later reported that the situation was under control, and that a crisis committee met at the interior ministry.

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