MINSK, Belarus — Even sooner than the Aug. 9 presidential election in Belarus ended, a pollworker in Minsk said she was once asked to mark a doc summing up its consequence, with the vote totals left clean.

Another worker who pointed out violations one day of the vote-counting was once fired on the discipline.

In the exiguous city of Vitebsk, a pollworker signed a doc with falsified finally ends up in prefer of President Alexander Lukashenko and later was once wracked with guilt for betraying the trust of the voters.

In the three weeks for the explanation that election that saved Lukashenko in energy with a landslide care for, a entire lot of hundreds of of us trust protested what they exclaim was once a rigged . Demonstrations and strikes within the country had been met by a police crackdown including mass detentions, beatings and prison charges against organizers.

The Associated Press interviewed election workers who said they saw pollfraud or had been pressured to falsify finally ends up in prefer of Lukashenko. In addition, various evidence has been posted online displaying falsifications and various irregularities.

To many in Belarus, the build Lukashenko has dominated with an iron fist since 1994 and has been accused of rigging earlier elections, his victory last month gave the impression clearly incredible.

His predominant opponent, historical English teacher Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, drew crowds of tens of hundreds of of us after she entered the dart in its build of her husband, Sergei, a stylish opposition blogger who was once jailed sooner than the election. She had managed to unite fractured opposition groups, channeling the growing frustration over the country’s broken-down financial system and Lukashenko’s swaggering dismissal of the coronavirus pandemic.

When the implications had been announced, nevertheless, the Central Election Commission said Lukashenko obtained 4.6 million votes, or 80%, and Tsikhanouskaya got most effective 588,000, or 10%.

The opposition was once entertaining for such an — allegations of rigged elections trust surfaced in every vote in Belarus since Lukashenko took energy in 1994. This time, it trained of us to be self ample monitors at polling stations, it encouraged pollworkers to document violations, and it plight up a web residence the build voters would per chance perhaps post photos of their marked ballots to envision with the legit rely.

Activists monitoring the election said in a document that they bought complaints about violations, irregularities and incidents of some originate of vote-rigging from at the least 24% of the country’s 5,767 precincts.

The document said that they studied appropriate beneath one-fourth of the nation’s precincts and found that Tsikhanouskaya bought over 471,000 votes in these areas on my own.

Valeria Artikhovskaya, who labored at a polling region in Minsk, said she aloof doesn’t know the legit outcomes of the vote at her precinct on fable of they had been by no arrangement launched.

Artikhovskaya said she was once asked to mark the closing protocol — a doc summing up the vote totals every precinct have to expose after counting the ballots — sooner than vote casting even ended, with the totals left clean. Artikhovskaya refused, and once the rely began, she seen various pollworkers inserting ballots for various candidates into a stack for Lukashenko.

“I said I wouldn’t mark the protocol on fable of it’s against the law, it’s fraud. (I said,) ‘Enable me to expose these ballots,’ and they refused. I didn’t mark the protocol and left the precinct,” the 30-yr-ragged told the AP on Friday. “My sense of appropriate and incorrect is dearer to me.”

Vadim Korzykov, who labored at any other Minsk polling region, told AP he didn’t even get to the signing stage — a senior pollworker dismissed him after he pointed out violations one day of the rely.

The 20-yr-ragged student said his colleagues told him later that the want of votes for Tsikhanouskaya at the precinct was once five times elevated than what Lukashenko bought there.

“It was once a travesty of justice. There just isn’t any various establish I will be able to name it,” Korzykov said in a cell phone interview on Wednesday.

Andrei Gnidenko, who labored at a pollin Vitebsk, a exiguous city in northeastern Belarus, said he gave in to the strain and signed a doc with falsified outcomes.

In step with the closing protocol from the region, a photo of which Gnidenko confirmed AP, Tsikhanouskaya got a entire of 156 votes, whereas Lukashenko bought 488. But Gnidenko says he and various workers counted over 250 ballots for Tsikhanouskaya.

When the time came to mark the protocol gradual at evening, everyone was once exhausted, and a crowd of residents had gathered start air the polling region, worrying to gape the implications. Gnidenko felt sorry for everyone and made up our minds to get it over with, a determination he now regrets.

“For the following few days, we had been all very severely unhappy,” the 29-yr-ragged said Friday. “I made up our minds that since I betrayed the Belarusian of us, since I took share in this rigging and build my signature on it, it was once my duty to if truth be told expose it (to the general public).”

An audio recording from any other polling region in Vitebsk was once posted on YouTube in which pollworkers are heard being told by an legit to falsify the finally ends up in prefer of Lukashenko. The legit means that pollworkers “swap the numbers” for Lukashenko and Tsikhanouskaya.

“I’m entertaining to agree that a form of of us voted for Tsikhanouskaya … but we now trust got various aims and various problems we must always always resolve,” the legit says. After some support and forth, pollworkers swap the implications.

One of the most workers later confirmed to Belarusian media the authenticity of the recording, which has bought over 450,000 hits on YouTube.

Alexander Khomich, a spokesman for the activist community Correct Those that monitored the election, said Tsikhanouskaya got deal extra votes and Lukashenko got deal fewer votes.

“Given the arrangement in which the vote has been rigged, I will be able to vouch that no one — now not us, now not the Central Election Commission — is conscious of the real consequence of the election,” Khomich told the AP.

The Central Election Commission has refused all of the candidates’ requests for a expose, and Lukashenko bristled at demands to rerun the vote.

In feedback to the AP on Thursday, the associated price again rejected the accusations of classy rigging, pronouncing complaints it bought from monitors and voters mostly pointed to procedural violations.

“Most complaints are about closing protocols now not being build out (for the general public),” said Galina Mkrtychyan, head of the associated price’s appropriate division.

The outcomes weren’t known by the four candidates on the pollwith Lukashenko. Both the U.S. and the European Union trust called the election neither free nor luminous, and EU international ministers are preparing sanctions against senior Belarus officials suspected of election fraud and the next crackdown on protesters.

The Belarus Supreme Court docket last week refused to overturn the vote, pronouncing it would per chance perhaps now not rule after election authorities declared it legitimate.

Maxim Znak, a authorized dependable and a member of the Coordination Council, which was once plight up after the election by the opposition to are attempting and negotiate a transition of energy with the Lukashenko government, said the court didn’t even gape at 26 folders of evidence from Tsikhanouskaya’s allies.

“They didn’t review this evidence, they didn’t review anything else, they didn’t name witnesses. They appropriate said that’s now not potential,” he told AP.

But activists judge the suitable battle is powerful from over. Voters and self ample monitors are submitting particular particular person complaints and worrying that laws enforcement agencies review rigging of their precincts, Znak said.

“For every of these polling stations the build of us know that they’ve voted in a single procedure and legit outcomes are various, they proceed to battle for his or her votes. They move to the police. They ask to launch a prison investigation,” he added.

Artikhovskaya, the Minsk pollworker, did appropriate that last week, submitting a formal grievance to the prosecutor’s place of job about the rigging she saw.

“We all know that of us is now not going to overlook about this. Contributors is now not going to forgive what took discipline,” Znak said.


Litvinova reported from Moscow.


Practice AP’s protection of Belarus at https://www.apnews.com/Belarus