The ‘last dictator in Europe’ does not yet seem to intend to make concessions to the opposition in the former Soviet Republic. According to a government-approved exit poll, the incumbent president achieves a monster score of 79.7 percent, compared to just 6.8 percent for opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja.
Hardly anyone believes it was fair. Since 1995, foreign observers have never recognized a fair election in Belarus. Lukashenko has already sent the army and riot police into the streets to quickly quell any protests. Social media in the country has also been restricted.
Some 1,300 opponents, including Tikhanovskaya’s husband, were arrested before the election. His 37-year-old wife then decided to step forward without political experience with the most important promise to hold real, free elections within six months.
Tichanovskaya’s spokeswoman announced on Sunday evening that she would not recognize the result. The opposition called on citizens to protest against electoral fraud.
Despite the presence of a large number of security forces, many people gathered in Minsk and other cities. The media reported massive arrests and police brutality against peaceful civilians. Military vehicles line the entrances to the city center in Minsk to prevent people from protesting.
65-year-old dictator Lukashenko is facing increasing unrest among the population. Not only the violations of civil and human rights, but also the weak economy and his approach to the corona crisis are blamed on him. Like fellow dictators in other countries, Lukashenko dismissed the virus as ‘fake news’ and a harmless flu.
At the polling station where Tichanovskaya cast her vote, hundreds of supporters gathered on Sunday and chanted her name. The opposition leader had called for not taking part in the early vote that took place earlier in the week in an effort to combat fraud. That call led to long queues at many polling stations on Sunday, and the electoral commission’s accusation that the opposition committed ‘provocation’ and ‘sabotage’.