Belarusian presidential election, August 2020

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Publication Date 2020
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Reports, analyses and information concerning to the presidential election taking place in Belarus on 9 August 2020.

Further information:

The country's President is elected directly for a term of five years using a two-round system. Incumbent Alexander Lukashenko announced a bid for a sixth term in the office, having won every presidential election since Belarusian independence in the 1990s. Analysts, pollsters and several stakeholders across the international community have long raised concerns on the elections in the country over the years.

The National Assembly set the date for the presidential election in May 2020. The months leading up to the election were marked by instability and the tightening of repression by state authorities. Protests were outlawed and opposition figures arrested. Leading figures such as Viktor Barbariko, Valeri Tsepkalo and Sergei Tikhanovski put forward their names as presidential candidates, but they were all eventually banned or prevented from running bids.

As a result, their wives brought themselves forward to stand in as candidates. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya became the face of the opposition movement in the weeks before the election, supported by Maria Kolesnikova and Veronika Tsepkalo.

The incumbent President claimed victory with over 80% of the votes, as announced by the country's Electoral Commission. However, many across the international community raised doubts over the accuracy of the numbers considering the numerous reports of fraud and the way this poll was conducted. Ms Tikhanovskaya also rejected the results. Thousands of people took to the streets across the country to protest against the outcome of the election. There were several reports of police brutality and attempts to shut down the country's telecommunications and internet access.

On 11 August, media outlets reported that Ms Tikhanovskaya was forced to leave the country following threats against her freedom and the safety of her family. The European Union issued a statement on the same day arguing the elections were "neither free nor fair". A meeting of the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council was held on 14 August to discuss the matter. Ministers called authorities to stop the violence against peaceful protests and to release those detained, reiterated that the EU did not accept the results of the election as presented by the Central Election Commission. The Council also agreed on the need to introduce sanctions against those responsible for violence, repression and the falsification of election results. On 19 August, the European Council also held a discussion on the situation in Belarus via video conference and endorsed the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council.

The mass protests across the country calling for political change, end of repression and fresh elections continued over the following weeks, despite detentions and use of force by security forces. For more on the 2020 protests in Belarus, check this follow-up ESO compilation.

Related Links
Commentary and Analysis
Wikipedia: 2020 Belarusian presidential election
IFES Election Guide: Election for President of Belarus
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Moscow Centre, 02/06/2020: Does Belarus Election Mark Start of New Era?
Human Rights Watch, 22/05/2020: Belarus: Activists, Journalists Jailed as Election Looms
Freedom House: Press Release, 09/06/2020: Belarus: Presidential Election Campaign Marred by Repressive Tactics
Euronews, 12/06/2020: Belarus presidential election: Will the lights go out on Lukashenko in 2020?
Chatham House: Expert Comment, 16/06/2020: Prepare For a Belarus Without Lukashenka?
Amnesty International: News, 29/06/2020: Belarus: Full-scale attack on human rights ahead of presidential election
Politico, 02/07/2020: Lukashenko’s coronavirus election
openDemocracy: ODR, 06/07/2020: Lukashenka’s mistakes bring Belarus closer to democratisation
LSE: EUROPP Blog, 10/07/2020: The 2020 presidential election in Belarus: Lukashenko’s moment of reckoning?
ECFR: Commentary, 21/07/2020: An election in Belarus: How the West could support a marginalised opposition
Euronews, 23/07/2020: Who is making sure Belarus' presidential election is free and fair?
Foreign Policy, 24/07/2020: In Belarus, an Unlikely Trio Challenges Lukashenko
OSW: Analyses, 29/07/2020: Lukashenka's difficult choices
The Conversation, 03/08/2020: Belarus election: why strongman Alexander Lukashenko faces unprecedented resistance
Euro|topics, August 2020: Election in Belarus: is this the end for Lukashenko?
RFE/RL, 06/08/2020: Five Factors That Ensure Lukashenka Wins Every Election In Belarus
Euronews, 06/08/2020: There is hope again in Belarus - even as Lukashenko muddies the election waters
CER: Insights, 07/08/2020: Something is stirring in Belarus
The Independent (UK), 07/08/2020: The presidential election in Belarus will be a choice between two very different futures for the country
Foreign Policy, 07/08/2020: Europe Must Stand Up for Belarus
The Guardian, 10/08/2020: Revolution or repression? Belarus stands at a crossroads
Deutsche Welle, 10/08/2020: Belarus protests pose a real threat to Lukashenko
The Conversation, 10/08/2020: Belarus election: contested result sparks massive unrest as Europe’s ‘last dictator’ claims victory
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Moscow Centre: Commentary, 10/08/2020: Can Russia-West Divide Save “Europe’s Last Dictator” in Belarus?
Amnesty International: News, 10/08/2020: Belarus: Police unleash appalling violence on peaceful protesters
OSW: Analyses, 10/08/2020: Mass protests in Belarus
Chatham House: Expert Comment, 10/08/2020: Why the Corrupt President of Belarus Deserves Sanctions
FIIA: Comment No 15, 10/08/2020: Belarus without Lukashenko: How it became a realistic scenario
Euro|topics, August 2020: Protests and violence after Belarus elections
GMFUS: Blog, 11/08/2020: Staying the Course on Belarus Is Not an Option for the United States
OSW: Analyses, 11/08/2020: Second night of post-election protests in Belarus
The Guardian, 11/08/2020: Will knocking Belarus offline save president from protests?
Human Rights Watch: News, 11/08/2020: Belarus: Violence, Abuse in Response to Election Protests
ECFR: Commentary, 11/08/2020: Why the EU now needs a deliberate Belarus policy
CER: Podcast, 12/08/2020: A rigged election in Belarus: Can Lukashenka cling to power?
Chatham House: Expert Comment, 12/08/2020: Belarus Policy: Time to Play Hardball
Foreign Policy, 12/08/2020: Why Belarus Is Not Ukraine
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Moscow Centre: Commentary, 13/08/2020: Belarus Protests Signal the Autumn of Lukashenko’s Regime
SWP: Point of View, 13/08/2020: Between Neighbours: How Does Russia View the Election Aftermath in Belarus?
Amnesty International: News, 13/08/2020: Belarus: Mounting evidence of a campaign of widespread torture of peaceful protesters
New Statesman, 14/08/2020: The Belarus crisis is a test for Britain and the EU
The Economist, 15/08/2020: Belarus’s election was a sham. The West’s response has been feeble
Euro|topics, August 2020: Protests and strikes: Lukashenko under increasing pressure
Foreign Affairs, 18/08/2020: Belarus Goes Its Own Way
ECFR: Commentary, 18/08/2020: Russia’s military manoeuvres at the Belarus border – a message to the West
GMFUS: Blog, 18/08/2020: Six to-Do’s for the EU Summit on Belarus
Euro|topics, August 2020: Will Putin intervene in Belarus?, 19/08/2020: Crisis puts spotlight on Swiss relations with Belarus
UK House of Commons: Library Research Briefing (No 8979), 08/09/2020: Belarus: 2020 presidential election

BELTA: 2020 Belarus Presidential Election
AP News, 08/05/2020: Belarus to hold its presidential election on Aug. 9
Deutsche Welle, 01/06/2020: Belarus' Lukashenko outlaws protests, arrests opponents
Politico, 08/06/2020: Belarus election hopeful calls on voters to ‘conquer their fear’
Deutsche Welle, 09/06/2020: Belarus prepares for tense presidential elections
BBC News, 14/07/2020: Belarus election: Hundreds protest after Lukashenko's rivals barred
Reuters, 14/07/2020: Hundreds protest in Belarus after two main challengers barred from election ballot
The Guardian, 29/07/2020: Belarus says Russian mercenaries arrested ahead of presidential election
The New York Times, 29/07/2020: Belarus Says Russian Mercenaries Planned to Disrupt August Election
The Moscow Times, 29/07/2020: Belarus Detains 33 Russian Wagner Mercenaries Ahead of Presidential Election – Report
France24, 29/07/2020: Belarus detains dozens of Russian mercenaries before election, says state media
Politico, 31/07/2020: In Belarus, Lukashenko faces a female challenge
BBC News, 31/07/2020: Belarus accuses 'Russian mercenaries' of election plot
RTL Today, 05/08/2020: Belarus vote threatens rupture in 'brotherly' ties with Russia
TASS, 06/08/2020: Lukashenko: US passport holders among those detained in Belarus ahead of election
EurActiv, 07/08/2020: Rising star shakes up Belarus strongman’s re-election bid
Euronews, 07/08/2020: Ties between Russia and Belarus cool ahead of presidential elections
EUObserver, 08/08/2020: EU wary of violence in Belarus election
Politico, 09/08/2020: Lukashenko wins Belarus election as protests sweep the country
The Moscow Times, 10/08/2020: 'The People Have Been Insulted': Russia Reacts to Belarus Presidential Vote, Unrest
EurActiv, 10/08/2020: Poland calls for extraordinary EU summit following tainted Belarus election
Reuters, 10/08/2020: Bloody clashes in Belarus as West condemns crackdown after election
The Economist, 10/08/2020: Lukashenko tries to crush protests against his rigged “victory”
Balkan Insight, 10/08/2020: Central Europe criticizes Belarus election as demonstrations planned in Poland
BBC News, 11/08/2020: Belarus election: Second night of clashes over disputed poll
RTÉ News, 11/08/2020: Police and protesters clash for a second day after disputed Presidential election results
The Guardian, 11/08/2020: Belarus opposition candidate rejects election result after night of protests
BBC News, 11/08/2020: Belarus election: Opposition leader Tikhanovskaya fled 'for sake of her children'
The Independent (UK), 11/08/2020: Belarus: Opposition leader leaves country as anti-government protests claim first fatality
LRT News, 11/08/2020: Belarus' Tikhanovskaya and her children ‘safe’ in Lithuania
RFE/RL, 11/08/2020: Belarusian Authorities Admit To Using Lethal Weapons Against Protesters
Deutsche Welle, 11/08/2020: EU threatens Belarus with 'measures against those responsible'
Politico, 11/08/2020: Leaderless protests contest Lukashenko’s grip on Belarus
Euronews, 12/08/2020: Belarus: More arrests and clashes in third night of post-election protests, 12/08/2020: Swiss join calls to release Belarus protestors
BBC News, 12/08/2020: Belarus election: Police use live fire on protesters in Brest
The Guardian, 12/08/2020: Belarus protests: more than 6,000 arrested, says interior ministry
Reuters, 12/08/2020: Belarus says police fired live rounds at protesters as EU weighs sanctions
EurActiv, 12/08/2020: EU says Belarus vote not free, threatens sanctions
Reuters, 12/08/2020: Thousands stage flower protest in Belarus as EU weighs sanctions
Balkan Insight, 12/08/2020: Peaceful protests and Polish bullets in Belarus
LRT News, 12/08/2020: Lithuania readies for potential refugees from Belarus
EurActiv, 13/08/2020: Belarus starts to release prisoners as EU weighs sanctions
BBC News, 13/08/2020: Belarus election: Women form 'solidarity chains' to condemn crackdown
BBC News, 14/08/2020: Belarus election: 'Widespread torture' inflicted on jailed protesters
The Guardian, 14/08/2020: Belarus pledges to release all protesters as evidence of beatings mounts
Euronews, 14/08/2020: Belarus: Detained protesters 'repeatedly beaten' and abused in post-election crackdown
Politico, 14/08/2020: EU takes first step toward Belarus sanctions
Deutsche Welle, 14/08/2020: EU foreign ministers greenlight new Belarus sanctions
EurActiv, 15/08/2020: Belarus opposition movement gains momentum as world watches
Associated Press, 16/08/2020: Leader of Belarus rejects calls to rerun presidential vote
BBC News, 16/08/2020: Belarus: Mass protest eclipses defiant Belarus leader's rally
TASS, 16/08/2020: Belarusian leader says won’t allow to ‘give away’ his country
Foreign Policy, 17/08/2020: European Leaders Urge Russia Not to Intervene in Belarus
Balkan Insight, 18/08/2020: Central Europe adopts united stance against Belarus ahead of EU Meet
The Guardian, 18/08/2020: Belarus president hints at fresh repression to keep grip on power
EUObserver, 18/08/2020: EU leaders to warn Russia against Belarus interference

Official Website of Belarus: Press Centre: Presidential election 2020 in Belarus
OSCE: ODIHR: Press Release, 15/07/2020: ODIHR will not deploy election observation mission to Belarus due to lack of invitation
EU EEAS: Joint Statement by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell and Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi on the Presidential elections in Belarus, 10 August 2020
US Government: Department of State: Press Statament on the Presidential Elections in Belarus (10 August 2020)
Council of Europe: News, 10/08/2020: Presidential election in Belarus: statement by PACE President
President of Russia: Events, 10/08/2020: Greetings to Alexander Lukashenko on winning presidential election in Belarus
OSCE: ODIHR: Press Release, 10/08/2020: ODIHR gravely concerned at situation in Belarus following presidential election
Government of Sweden: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 11/08/2020: Joint Statement of Nordic-Baltic Foreign Ministers on recent developments in Belarus
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 11/08/2020: Belarus: Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union on the presidential elections
United Nations: News, 12/08/2020: Belarus: UN rights chief condemns violence against protesters, calls for grievances to be heard
EU EEAS: Blog, 13/08/2020: Belarus: violence must stop and regime must change
President of Estonia: Press Release, 13/08/2020: Presidents of Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Poland call for action on Belarus
Council of Europe: Newsroom, 14/08/2020: Secretary General comments on the situation in Belarus
President of Russia: Events, 15/08/2020: Telephone conversation with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko
President of Russia: Events, 16/08/2020: Telephone conversation with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko
UK Government: Foreign & Commonwealth Office: Press Release, 17/08/2020: Foreign Secretary statement on Belarusian Presidential elections
United Nations: News, 17/08/2020: Belarus crisis: Top UN official concerned over torture allegations
NATO: Newsroom, 18/08/2020: NATO Secretary General discusses Belarus with President of Poland
European Commission: Statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel, following the videoconference of the European Council members on the situation in Belarus (19 August 2020)

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