Tensions rise as Belarus holds presidential vote; aide flees

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Tensions are high in Belarus as the country holds a presidential election. The main opposition candidate’s staff reported that eight of its members were detained by police and that one of the campaign’s leading figures had fled the country. The election pits authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, in office since 1994, against four others in an atmosphere charged with wide dismay over the country’s deteriorating economy, political repression and Lukashenko’s brushoff of the coronavirus threat. Opposition supporters suspect that election officials will manipulate the results to give Lukashenko a sixth term in office. Protests are expected once the polls close but Lukashenko has made it clear he won’t hesitate to quash any such actions.