Belarus police ‘in control’ amid bloody election protests

Protesters help paramedics carry a wounded person into an ambulance in Minsk yesterday. (AP pic)

MINSK: Police in Belarus are “in control of the situation” amid opposition protests after a tense presidential vote that critics say was rigged, state news agency Belta said Monday.

“Police are in control of the situation at unsanctioned mass events,” Belta cited the interior ministry as saying, following clashes in the capital Minsk and other cities.

Several people were injured in the clashes in the capital, a witness told AFP, while images on social media showed several protesters with their faces covered in blood.

Reached by AFP, a spokesman for the interior ministry declined to say if anyone had been injured in the demonstrations.

A live video feed provided by US-funded Radio Liberty showed police firing stun grenades and advancing to disperse the crowd, with many fleeing.

Opposition-linked media outlets including tut.by and Nasha Niva reported clashes with police and said a police van had rammed into a crowd of protesters.

There were also reports of water cannon and rubber bullets being fired.

According to the state exit poll, longtime Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko won Sunday’s presidential election with 79.7% of the vote, securing a sixth term in office.

Lukashenko’s main opposition challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya came second with 6.8%, according to the poll.

She swiftly said she did not trust the official figures, insisting “the majority is with us”.

First official results were expected overnight.