MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Tensions were high in Belarus as the country held a presidential election Sunday. Eight staff members for the main challenger to the authoritarian president were reportedly detained by police and one of the campaign’s leading figures fled the country. The election pits President Alexander Lukashenko, who has held an iron grip on the ex-Soviet nation since 1994, against four others in an atmosphere charged with wide public dismay over the country’s deteriorating economy, political repression and Lukashenko’s brushoff of the coronavirus threat. Opposition supporters suspect that election officials will manipulate results to give the 65-year-old Lukashenko a sixth term in office. Protests are expected once the polls close Sunday — and Lukashenko has made it clear he won’t hesitate to quash any demonstrations. “If you provoke, you will get the same answer,” he said after casting his ballot. “Do you want to try to overthrow the government, break something, wound, offend, and expect me or someone to kneel in front of you and kiss them and the sand onto which you wandered? This will not happen.” Although there are four candidates other than Lukashenko on the ballot, the opposition has coalesced around one: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the… Read full this story
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