Protesters fought with riot police for the third night running in cities across Belarus as the European Union threatened to reimpose sanctions over the rigged election there, which saw the incumbent ruler Alexander Lukashenko claim more than 80 percent of the vote. The EU has threatened sanctions, saying the election was “neither free nor fair” and warned it could punish those responsible for “violence, unjustified arrests, and falsification of election results.” Witnesses reported seeing security forces detaining dozens of people and beating protesters in the street. In footage shared on social media, security forces were seen apparently smashing car windows and dragging people out of vehicles to attack them. Press photographers were also targeted, with police pulling out memory cards from cameras and breaking lenses. The main challenger, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who ran for office after her husband, Syarhei, was imprisoned for his anti-government activism, said in a video Tuesday that she had fled the country to protect her children, saying: “You know, I thought that this whole campaign had really toughened me up and given me so much strength that I could handle anything. But, probably, I’m still the weak woman I was in the first place…Children are the main thing in life.” Belarusian state media released a second video in which Tikhanovskaya urged supporters not to protest. Her allies said it was recorded under duress. The White House said it was “deeply concerned” by the violence. Poland offered to act as a mediator between Lukashenko and the opposition and called for an emergency EU summit.
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