Protester dies in clashes after disputed Belarus vote

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Police use truncheons on protesters during a mass protest following presidential election in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Aug. 10, 2020. Thousands of people have protested in Belarus for a second straight night after official results from weekend elections gave an overwhelming victory to authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, extending his 26-year rule. A heavy police contingent blocked central squares and avenues, moving quickly to disperse protesters and detained dozens. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

MINSK – A protester died amid clashes between police and thousands of people gathered for a second straight night Monday in Belarus after official results from weekend elections — dismissed by the opposition as a sham — gave an overwhelming victory to authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Interior Ministry spokesman Alexander Lastovsky said the victim was part of a crowd of people protesting results of Sunday’s presidential vote. The protester intended to throw an explosive device, but it blew up in his hand and killed him, Lastovsky said.

The death came amid demonstrations in at least four areas of Minsk that met with a harsh response from police who tried to disperse protesters with flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets. Near the Pushkinskaya subway station, some 3,000 protesters tried to build barricades.

Lukashenko's hardline rule began in 1994 and his victory would extend it until 2025. He derided the opposition as “sheep” manipulated by foreign masters.

Dozens were injured and thousands detained hours after Sunday's vote, when police brutally broke up mostly young protesters with tear gas, water cannons and beat them with truncheons. Rights activists said one person died after being run over by a police truck — which authorities denied.

Election officials said Lukashenko won a sixth term in office with 80% of the vote, while opposition challenger Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya got 10%. Tsikhanouskaya submitted a formal request for a recount to the Central Election Commission.

After submitting the request, both Tsikhanouskaya and her spokeswoman remained unreachable. Upon leaving the commission’s headquarters she said “I have made a decision, I must be with my children.”

It was unclear if her statement meant that she was heading abroad to reunite with her children, whom she had earlier sent to an unspecified European country after receiving threats.