News / Europe

Belarus Opposition Attacks Government Building After Election

A demonstrator, wrapped in a white-red-white national flag, banned under authoritarian president Alexander Lukasheno, lies on the ground in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010.
A demonstrator, wrapped in a white-red-white national flag, banned under authoritarian president Alexander Lukasheno, lies on the ground in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010.
James Brooke

A massive demonstration against alleged vote rigging in Belarus' presidential election turned violent Sunday after protesters tried to storm a government building housing the country's Central Election Commission.  

Moving between Christmas trees and a massive statue of Vladimir Lenin, protesters broke windows and glass doors.  In a counter attack, riot police poured out of the darkened building poured, beating and injuring dozens of protesters with clubs.  Police detained hundreds of people, including three presidential candidates.

The late night violence came after the largest demonstration in more than a decade against Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus's president since 1994.

Chanting "Freedom for Belarus" and "Down with Lukashenko," a crowd gathered in October Square immediately after polls closed. Opposition speakers charged that Lukashenko had run a fraudulent election, controlling the vote counting machinery.

A few hours earlier, Mr. Lukashenko predicted on national television that no one would turn out for the rally. "Don't worry," he said.  "No one is going to be on that square," he said.

During the afternoon, access was denied to the Internet websites of the two leading opposition presidential candidates - Andrei Sannikov and Vladimir Neklyaev - and to the website of Charter 97, a Belarus human rights group.

Mr. Neklyaev never made it to October Square.  Police attacked the candidate as he led a small group to the demonstration.  An aide, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Alexander, said he escaped the violence.

Alexander said the police ordered them face down in the snow, then beat Mr. Neklyaev so badly that he was taken to the hospital with a concussion.

Another aide, Vasilli asked, "What kind of democracy is this where they beat up the future president before a ballot box has even been opened?"

Despite the attack, an estimated 40,000 Belarussians made it to the square.  Authorities tried to drown out their speeches by playing Soviet era music through loudspeakers.  The crowd pushed aside traffic policemen and flowed down Independence Avenue.

Andrei Sannikov, another presidential candidate, led the march to the government administration building. "Our goal is now the Central Election Committee," he said.

Mr. Sannikov was detained after he led the march.

Cars honked their horns in solidarity as the marchers poured down the eight lane central avenue.  No windows were broken.  No graffiti was sprayed.  Protesters seemed jubilant with the massive turnout -- the largest demonstration that many said they had ever seen in this tightly controlled nation.

Sasha, a retired 70 year old factory worker, said he had come out because he was disgusted with the fraud he saw as an election observer. He said that 70 valid ballots disappeared from the polling station he was monitoring.

President Lukashenko says he wanted to conduct an election that would be deemed fair in the West.  The European Union has offered up to $4 billion in credits to Belarus on the condition that the country hold a free and fair presidential election.

For Europe, the main Western observer group is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has sent 400 observers here.  On Monday, the OSCE is expected to give its report on the election.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid