Opposition Candidate Says Ready to Lead Belarus

Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya says she is ready to become the leader of the country following a disputed election that ignited massive protests after longtime President Alexander Lukashenko was declared the winner.Lukashenko on Monday rejected holding another vote but indicated he was willing to consider sharing power, but not under pressure from street protests.  His opponent in the election spoke in a video message released from Lithuania. “We all want to leave this loop that we found ourselves in 26 years ago. I am ready to take on the responsibility and become the national leader in this period,”  Tsikhanouskaya said. “With the goal of calming the situation and entering into a normal period, freeing political prisoners, and in the shortest time creating the conditions and legislative base to organize new presidential elections. Real, honest and transparent elections, that will be unequivocally accepted by the international community.”Russia Could Step In to Help Embattled Belarus Leader Amid Massive Protests, Accusations of Rigged Election Kremlin says Putin, Lukashenko agree on Moscow assistance to ‘maintain security’ in Belarus Tsikhanouskaya also called on the Belarusian military to join the protesters.On Sunday, as many as 200,000 protesters marched in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, far outnumbering the crowd of Lukashenko supporters who also marched. The protest march began near Victory Park in central Minsk and was the biggest demonstration in the history of the former Soviet republic.Lukashenko Declared Winner in Belarus Election for 6th Straight Term   Protests erupted challenging the results; rights groups say one person was killed, dozens injured, and several hundred arrests were made Thousands of factory workers went on strike Monday to protest what they called “rigged” elections. Some of them heckled Lukashenko as he spoke to workers during a visit to a tractor factory.  He said there will be no new election “until you kill me.”  The country’s Central Election Commission said that after all ballots were counted in the August 9 election, Lukashenko took 80.23% of the votes and Tsikhanouskaya took 9.9%.She entered the race after the arrest of her husband, blogger and would-be opposition candidate Siarhei Tsikhanousky.Hundreds of Thousands March in Belarus200,000 March Against Pres. Lukashenko and his longtime authoritarian rule after another allegedly stolen presidential electionTsikhanouskaya said she would never accept the results before fleeing to Lithuania for what she said was her children’s safety.Lukashenko took power after Belarus declared independence from the Soviet Union and has been president since 1994.Lukashenko told military chiefs Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin offered “comprehensive help” to “ensure the security of Belarus.”The Kremlin said in a statement that both presidents agreed the “problems” in Belarus would be “resolved soon” and the countries’ ties would strengthen.

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