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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid