At least one person has been killed and dozens injured in clashes between riot police and protesters in Belarus in the second night of protests against Alexander Lukashenko after the president claimed victory in elections amid accusations of vote-rigging.
The fighting late on Monday appeared to escalate as police once again employed rubber bullets and stun grenades against demonstrators, while some shot back with fireworks and several Molotov cocktails, according to a Guardian reporter who estimated the crowd at several thousand people.
Protesters also began constructing crude barricades from shopping carts, fencing, breezeblocks and other items found on the street.
Some said they had decided to join the protests after scenes of harrowing violence on Sunday evening, when police attacked demonstrators with rubber bullets, water cannon, stun grenades and batons.
“I never went to protests before and until yesterday and I told everyone I know not to go either,” said a young protestor in a hoodie wearing a medical mask. “But when I saw how they beat people across the street from my house, I realised I couldn’t sit at home any longer.”
The clashes came after the opposition issued a message of defiance on Monday, rejecting the results of a presidential election marred by vote-rigging as the country braced for a second night of protests against Lukashenko.
“I will believe my own eyes – the majority was for us,” Svetlana Tikhanovskaya told reporters in the capital, Minsk, on Monday, after widespread reports of vote-tampering in Sunday’s election.
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, expressed concern about the conduct of the election “which was not free and fair”.
“We strongly condemn ongoing violence against protesters and the detention of opposition supporters, as well as the use of internet shutdowns to hinder the ability of the Belarusian people to share information about the election and the demonstrations,” Pompeo added in a statement.