İrem UZUN -TDO- The country went offline on Sunday during its presidential election. Major social networks and message sites including Viber, Telegram, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were inaccessible, as were local news outlets.

The ongoing shutdown has further roiled the country of about 9.5 million people, where official election results this morning indicated that five-term president Aleksandr Lukashenko had won a sixth term with about 80 percent of the vote. Around the country, protests against Lukashenko's administration, including criticisms of his foreign policy and handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, grew in the days leading up to the election and exploded on Sunday night. The government has responded to the protests by mobilizing police and military forces, particularly in Minsk, the capital. Meanwhile, opposition candidates and protesters say the election was rigged and believe the results to be illegitimate.

On Monday, Lukashenko said in an interview that the internet outages were coming from abroad and were not the result of a Belarusian government initiative. Yet, a source at one Belarusian mobile operator told the Guardian: “We’re in shock from what is happening. It’s going to continue until approximately 14 August. We’ve simply been told that this is what’s happening.” Lukashenko has blamed the outages on distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks from abroad, without presenting evidence.

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