MOSCOW — Violent clashes between protesters and security forces in Belarus broke out for a second straight night Monday in the aftermath of disputed election results that showed authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko winning overwhelmingly.
Authorities confronted demonstrators Monday night with stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas, but some videos posted to social media showed police running away from charging protesters. Police have reported the death of one protester.
The opposition has called for “long-term” protests to challenge what they and international governments have called a fraudulent outcome. The Central Elections Committee claims Lukashenko won with more than 80 percent of the vote.
But Lukashenko’s main rival, political novice Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has fled the country to Lithuania, according to Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius, who said on Twitter Tuesday that Tikhanovskaya is “safe.”
Tikhanovskaya’s campaign said Monday night that she “vanished” after being in the Central Elections Committee building alone for two to three hours to file a complaint, her press secretary Anna Krasulina told Russia’s MBKh Media.
“Then Svetlana came out to the lawyer, said that she made up her mind, said goodbye to him,” Krasulina said. “Then she was escorted through a different door and left to an unknown location.”
After Tikhanovskaya’s campaign was unable to reach her for several hours, it later said she reached out in a message to say she’s “all right,” but did not supply any further details.
Tikhanovskaya, 37, said earlier Monday that she didn’t plan to flee the country, but her husband, a popular opposition blogger, was jailed in May, and she previously said she sent her children abroad after receiving threats they’d be placed in an orphanage. She went into hiding the night before the election.
Tikhanovskaya is now the country’s second presidential hopeful seeking refuge outside of the country. In the run-up to Sunday’s election, former Belarusan ambassador to the United States, Valery Tsepkalo, was not allowed to register as a candidate and fled to Russia. Two other candidates were previously detained.
Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, pledged “a proper response” to the opposition rallies that have broken out across the country and that “there will be no Maidan-type” public uprising, referencing the Ukrainian revolution that resulted in the ouster of its president in 2014.
Near the Pushkinskaya metro station in Minsk, several thousand protesters tried to build barricades on Monday night before being dispersed by police.
The Belarusan Interior Ministry said late Monday that one protester in Minsk died during a confrontation with security forces from an “unidentified explosive device” that detonated in his hand. Another protester was reportedly killed Sunday night, according to human rights organizations, when a police vehicle drove into him, but government officials have denied that.