Thousands of Belarusian demonstrators were met with a violent police response on Sunday night as they protested what they said was a fraudulent election, after long-serving incumbent Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory.
Czech Republic premier Andrej Babiš called the police repression of Belarusian demonstrators “a type of action that has no place in current Europe.”
“I condemn the police violence and the brutal assault on peaceful protesters in Minsk,” Babiš tweeted.
“These elections cannot be labeled as free and democratic,” the Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (CSSD) said separately.
Lukashenko’s hardline rule began in 1994 and his victory would extend it until 2025. He derided the opposition as “sheep” manipulated by foreign masters.
Election officials said Lukashenko won a sixth term in office with 80% of the vote, while opposition challenger Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya got 10%. Tsikhanouskaya submitted a formal request for a recount to the Central Election Commission.
On Monday evening, scattered groups of opposition supporters began gathering in downtown Minsk, chanting “Freedom!” and “Long live Belarus!”
A heavy police contingent blocked central squares and avenues, moving quickly to disperse protesters and detained dozens.