Belarus election candidate flees country amid protests

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The leading opposition candidate in Belarus’ presidential election has fled her country and is now “safe” in Lithuania, according to the country’s foreign minister.

Linas Linkevicius made the statement on Twitter on Tuesday.

It comes after Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya refused to concede defeat in Sunday’s vote and dismissed the official results showing authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko’s landslide victory as a sham.

She submitted her formal demand for a recount to Belarus’ Central Election Commission on Monday.

Protest in Minsk
Police use truncheons on protesters during a mass protest in Minsk (Sergei Grits/AP/PA)

On Monday, a protester died amid the clashes in Minsk and scores were injured as police used tear gas, flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the demonstrators.

Interior Ministry spokesman Alexander Lastovsky said the victim intended to throw an explosive device but it blew up in his hand and killed him.

Mr Lukashenko, who has led the ex-Soviet nation of 9.5-million with an iron fist since 1994, derided the opposition as “sheep” manipulated by foreign masters.

Election officials said Mr Lukashenko won a sixth term in office with 80% of the vote while Ms Tsikhanouskaya got 10%.

After submitting her recount request on Monday, Ms Tsikhanouskaya said: “I have made a decision, I must be with my children.”

She had earlier sent her children to an unspecified European country after receiving threats.

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