MINSK – One protester was killed during clashes with special ops units in Minsk, Belarusian Interior Ministry Spokesperson Olga Chemodanova stated on her Telegram channel.
“During the clashes with special ops units, which arrived to unblock the square, one of the protesters tried to throw an unidentified explosive device at the law enforcement officers. It exploded in his hand and the man sustained fatal injuries,” the statement read, according to TASS.
The protests in the Belarusian capital have been ongoing for nearly a whole day. The hotbeds of resistance to the law enforcement officers, who have been trying to establish order in the streets, remain in three Minsk areas – near Pushkinskaya metro, near Gorky Park and Bangalore Square. The forces are using tear gas and stun grenades.
On Sunday, Belarus held its sixth presidential election since declaring independence in 1991. According to the country’s Central Election Commission, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won 80.08% of votes. His closest rival, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, scored 10.09% of votes.
After the exit poll results were announced on Sunday night, mass protests flared up in downtown Minsk and other Belarusian cities, which spiraled into clashes with police. According to the Interior Ministry, some 3,000 people were detained and dozens of police and protesters were injured.
US Democratic presumptive nominee, Joe Biden, released a statement via the Medium online platform regarding the recent Belarusian presidential election, referring to the incumbent president, Alexander Lukashenko, as “Lukashenka” and criticizing the elections as “marred by electoral fraud”.
“I stand with those who are calling for a transparent and accurate vote count and the release of all political prisoners. I also call on President Lukashenka to respect the rights of peaceful protestors and to refrain from further violence. My administration will never shy away from standing up for democratic principles and human rights, and we will work with our democratic allies and partners to speak with one voice in demanding these rights be respected,” Biden said in his statement.
Stating that “the Lukashenka regime has cut internet access, arrested protesters and independent journalists, and tried to muzzle foreign observers”, Biden noted that “these are not the actions of a political leader confident that he has won a fairly conducted election”. The presidential candidate also praised the “brave citizens — journalists, activists, and ordinary people documenting these extraordinary events”.
The former vice president’s statement echoed that of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who earlier denounced the Belarusian presidential elections as “not free and fair” and called on the nation’s government to “refrain from the use of force and release those wrongfully detained”.