“Tens of thousands of protesters demanding a new election gathered in Minsk, Belarus, and other cities around the country on Sunday in what some observers say may be the largest protests in the history of the former Soviet republic.
The demonstrations came a week after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko — Europe’s longest-serving leader — plainly rigged national elections to remain in power. They also marked the eighth day of protests across the country against those results, a striking burst of energy against a repressive government that has resulted in thousands of Belarusians being detained and at least two deaths.“
“Lukashenko intervened aggressively in the elections: He detained journalists and two of the top three opposition leaders running against him; he prohibited the third one from running altogether.
Lukashenko’s authoritarian handling of the election while the nation also faced serious economic and public health crises seems to have backfired, helping to ignite the protests.
Part of the dissident energy also seemed to be fueled by the meteoric rise of a 37-year-old stay-at-home-mom-turned-opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who stepped into the race after her husband, a popular blogger, was arrested two days after he announced his candidacy for president. Tikhanovskaya has been forced to flee the country out of safety concerns, but protests have continued to gather momentum across the nation.”