Demonstrators Attempt to Storm Government Offices in Belarus

- by Janice Vanos, Contributing Writer

Following on the heels of the nation's presidential election, protestors attempted to storm the government headquarters in Belarus.

Opposition supporters launched the protests in Minsk, which were eventually driven back by the police. There was an earlier protest earlier in the day that was also broken up.

Opposition candidate Vladimir Neklyaev is reported to have been injured during the riots.

Alexander Lukashenko, the incumbent president, is currently leading with an approximate 70% of the vote, as per exit polls. Lukashenko, often called the last dictator in Europe, allowed this year's elections to be freer than usual and even gave the opposition candidates an opportunity to participate in a televised debate.

This came after the EU said it was willing to give Belarus $3.5 billion in aid but only if the elections were declared free and fair.

Protestors were beaten up today by riot police. Among those beaten up were two employees of the New York Times, but neither of them were seriously injured.

An earlier protest of 200 was broken up and gave way to a crowd of nearly 10,000. The protestors raised banners reading "Down with Lukashenko" while they attempted to storm the city's government district.

There have since been reports of mass arrests.

Opposition leaders are calling the elections rigged and have vowed to continue protesting their results.

Last week, Lukashenko vowed that there would be political changes in Belarus but that there would be "no change in power."


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