By Vatican News
Unrest is continuing in Belarus despite the departure of the top opposition candidate, Svetlana Tikhanouskaya, for neighbouring Lithuania.
Anti-government demonstrators protested for a third straight night on Tuesday, denouncing the presidential election result and calling for a free and transparent election.
Belarusian police detained more than 1,000 protesters and the Belarusian Interior Ministry said that 51 protesters and 14 police officers were hurt during the protests overnight.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, claimed victory with around 80% of the vote, triggering two nights of violent clashes between security forces and opposition supporters in which one protester was killed.
Belarus’ health officials reported that over 200 people have been hospitalized with injuries following the protests, and some underwent surgery.
The unrest has been fuelled by a deep sense of frustration at years of political repression and a declining economy.
Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanouskaya said on Tuesday she had fled to neighbouring Lithuania for the sake of her children and urged an end to the demonstrations.
Tsikhanouskaya, a former English teacher who entered the race after her husband's jailing in Belarus, apologized to her supporters in a video statement and said it was her own choice to leave the country. “It was a very hard decision to make,” she said.
Reaction in Europe
On Tuesday, the European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell condemned what he called "disproportionate" violence by Belarusian authorities against protesters following Sunday's election and said the EU could take unspecified measures.
Meanwhile, Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Ann Linde said on Wednesday that EU foreign ministers will meet on Friday to discuss targeted sanctions against Belarus.
Prayer and dialogue
In recent days the Archbishop of Minsk, Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz has called on Belarusians to find a peaceful way out of this confrontation between the presidency and the opposition. Speaking to Vatican News’ Giancarlo La Vella, the Archbishop also urged dialogue and prayers for peace.