More than a thousand people were detained overnight in Belarus in a third night of protests following the presidential election, according to an Interior Ministry statement on Wednesday.
Authorities throughout the country have made a total of more than 6,000 detentions over the course of the protests, which erupted on Sunday as polls closed.
Calling for long-time President Alexander Lukashenko to resign, chanting “Get out!,” protesters have taken to streets in major cities. They accuse Lukashenko of rigging the vote to win a sixth consecutive term.
Lukashenko, 65, has led Belarus, a former Soviet republic in Eastern Europe, between Russia and EU member state Poland, for a quarter century, tolerating little dissent.
Electoral authorities said Lukashenko won 80 per cent of the vote in the weekend poll. Police have conducted a violent crackdown on the demonstrations, with officers filmed beating protesters with truncheons.
The European Union has condemned the election as “neither free nor fair” and said “state authorities deployed disproportionate and unacceptable violence causing at least one death and many injuries.”
“The people of Belarus deserve better,” the EU said in a statement.
Several protest organizers have been detained, state news agency BelTA reported on Wednesday.
One of the protest organizers, a resident of the capital Minsk, had rented a room on the 17th floor of the high-rise Belarus Hotel and coordinated actions from there, BelTA said.
The report could not be independently verified, and no photo or other evidence was provided to back up the claim.
The official runner-up in the election, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, 37, has travelled to safety in neighbouring Lithuania. Her husband and another top potential challenger to Lukashenko were jailed in the run-up to the vote.