MINSK, Belarus The Lithuanian foreign minister says that the leading opposition candidate in Belarus’ presidential election has fled her country and is now safe in Lithuania.
Linas Linkevicius made the statement on Twitter 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 Monday.
Thousands of opposition supporters protested against the official vote results, facing a tough police crackdown in Minsk and several other Belarusian cities.
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.
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 Lukashenko won a sixth term in office with 80% of the vote, while Tsikhanouskaya got 10%.
After submitting her recount request on Monday, 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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