Belarus' main voting day for presidential election kicks off

Elias Hubbard
August 9, 2020

Belarus began voting in an election on Sunday pitting President Alexander Lukashenko against a former teacher who emerged from obscurity to lead the biggest challenge in years against the man once dubbed "Europe's last dictator" by Washington.

Alexander Lukashenko is seeking a sixth term in office in Sunday's vote.

The main candidate, Tikhanovskaya, has previously said in interviews she had to send her children overseas after receiving threats they will be placed in an orphanage.

Stay-at-home mum Ms Tikhanovskaya is a political novice who only stepped in as a candidate for president when her husband was arrested and blocked from registering.

Some of the main opposition candidates were barred from running or arrested, while hundreds of protesters and opposition supporters were detained in recent months.

Her rallies have drawn some of the biggest crowds since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

A spokeswoman for presidential hopeful Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said Maria Moroz was detained on Saturday.

A spokeswoman for Ms Tikhanovskaya previously said Ms Moroz was briefly detained on Thursday after visiting the Lithuanian embassy in Minsk.

Social media networks experienced disruption.

Independent observers in Belarus such as the "Honest people" volunteer monitoring group said they have found significant discrepancies between the officially announced turnout and the number of people entering the polling stations they were able to count.

A total of 248 worldwide observers and almost 50,0000 domestic observers are monitoring the election campaign.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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