A man lies on the ground in front of riot police during a protest after polls closed in Belarus' presidential election, in Minsk on August 9, 2020.

Police, protesters clash after Belarus presidential vote

Belarus police and protesters clashed in the capital Minsk after a disputed election result in the country.

Tensions had been rising as incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko sought a sixth term despite rising discontent with his authoritarian rule.

Anger about the economic situation and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic has generated the country's biggest protests in years.

Opposition supporters said they suspected election officials would manipulate the results of Sunday’s vote to give the 65-year-old Lukashenko a sixth term.

Officials had already denied two prominent opposition challengers places on the ballot, jailing one on charges he called political and prompting the other to flee to Russia with his children.

The main opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, came under heavy pressure over the weekend as eight members of her staff were arrested, and one of her top aides fled the country on Sunday.

Belarusians weary of the country's deteriorating economy and Lukashenko's repression of the opposition coalesced around Tsikhanouskaya, a former teacher and the wife of a jailed opposition blogger, in large shows of support unusual for a country where crackdowns on dissent are routine.

The head of the Central Elections Commission, Lidia Yermoshina, said early Monday that partial results from some regions showed Lukashenko with a crushing lead, getting more than 90% of the vote in some districts.