The official result of Belarus's presidential election was never in doubt, with President Aleksandr Lukashenko often described as "Europe's last dictator" and opposition ruthlessly suppressed. But it's clear yesterday's poll—officially won with 79% of the vote—went as badly for him as it could have, with protestors swarming into the streets as soon as the cooked numbers were announced.
Earlier, the central election commission said Lukashenko, in power for more than a quarter of a century, won 80% of the vote in Sunday's election, while Svetlana Tikhanouskaya, who emerged from obscurity to become his main rival, took just 9.9%.
"The authorities are not listening to us. The authorities need to think about peaceful ways to hand over power," said Tikhanouskaya, a former English teacher who entered the race after her blogger husband was jailed.
"Of course we do not recognise the results."
Foreign observers have not judged an election to be free and fair in Belarus since 1995, and the run-up to the vote saw authorities jail Lukashenko's rivals and open criminal investigations into others who voiced opposition.
Footage from the streets is spectacular and alarming: vast crowds and violent cops.
— The Intel Crab (@IntelCrab) August 9, 2020
2:30 in Belarus. There are mixed reports about what's going on, esp. in the regions but it seems that both sides decided to call it a day. It is clear for everyone that Lukashenko lost the election but he's not going to give in the power without a fight. This week will be crucial pic.twitter.com/fpwMY855Gf
— Tadeusz Giczan (@TadeuszGiczan) August 9, 2020
— Hanna Liubakova (@HannaLiubakova) August 9, 2020
— Thomas van Linge (@ThomasVLinge) August 9, 2020