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Belarus presidential election candidate flees country

The main opposition candidate in Belarus’ presidential election has fled her country amid a police crackdown on protests – and she is now “safe” in Lithuania.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s departure comes after she refused to concede defeat in Sunday’s vote.

The 37-year-old dismissed the official results showing authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko’s landslide victory as a sham.

Election officials said Mr Lukashenko won a sixth term in office with 80% of the vote while Ms Tsikhanouskaya got just 10%.

On Tuesday, Lithuania’s foreign minister Linas Linkevicius confirmed she was safe in his country.

Ms Tsikhanouskaya, who ran as an independent but attracted support from Belarus’ political opposition, submitted a formal demand for a recount to the country’s central election commission.

Afterwards, she told her supporters: “I have made a decision, I must be with my children.”

She had earlier sent her two children to an unspecified European country after receiving threats.

Thousands of opposition supporters protested against the official vote results, which led to a tough police crackdown in Minsk and several other cities.

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