After the August 9, 2020 presidential election in Belarus, deemed a result of “rigged and falsified voting” by poll workers and voters, dozens of student protestors took to the streets to protest the ruling of President Alexander Lukashenko. Many of the protestors were arrested and hauled into vans, not seen or heard from again afterward.
These disappearances happened after the third week of demonstrations, when thousands of people clashed with riot police in Minsk.
A “political warfare” ensued after hundred of people took to the streets after the poll results of the 2020 election in Belarus was released. It was announced that President Alexander Lukashenko won with a landslide of over 4.6 million votes in his favor while his opposition only received 588,000.
For the citizens of Belarus not only was this result completely implausible but also expected. Not because people favored Lukashenko more than the opposition leader, Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, but because the opposition was much more favored than the current president so citizens expected that Lukashenko would rig the election.
Ever since 1994, Lukashenko has been accused of rigging previous elections but only now has his actions received such a large backlash from the public.
In an interview with 37-year old Tikhanovskaya, she identified the missing protestors as a “political prisoners” under Lukashenko’s regime. Around seventy people are still missing and have not been heard from by their friends or family. Worryingly enough to Tikhanovskaya’s supporters, at least four protestors have been found dead.
The news of these deaths have only supported her point that “they just are in jail without any court, and they are in there only for their, I don’t know, for their wish to talk about what’s going on in Belarus, about their desire to live in a free country.”
It is likely that the protestors found dead are the result of the president’s orders for police to take extensive measures to detain the protestors. Tikhanovskaya stated her disapproval at the show of how far police brutality will go and how no case was opened to investigate the deaths. The opposition leader called for cases to be opened against the police officers who committed these crimes, emphasizing how crimes such as these should not be “normal for citizens” of Belarus.
Tikhanovskaya’s husband has been included in the high number of missing protestors against the president’s rule.
Tikhanovskaya has now promised to her supporters that she will not try to run again in the elections. However, she vows that the fight will not stop for many of Belarus’ citizens and she will instead continue to publicly support the movement against the president’s reign.
At the start, Tikhanovskaya was just a housewife with two children. When she joined the election race she was not deemed as a possible presidential candidate let alone a threat to the current president’s position. Yet, she gained popularity through her honest representation of herself and how she sees the corruption in Belarus’ politics despite her lack of experience as a proper presidential candidate or politician.
Her popularity was also increased by the citizens deep discontent with the current president’s mismanagement of the economy and “inconsistent information” during the coronavirus pandemic.
Written by Brielle R. Buford
Fox News: Dozens of Belarus protesters missing after third weekend of demonstrations, opposition leader says
CNN: Video shows students being dragged away and loaded onto police vans in Minsk
AP News: Belarus poll workers describe fraud in Aug. 9 election
Featured and Inset Image Courtesy of Gerard Stolk’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License