Pope Francis called for justice in Belarus on Sunday following an allegedly rigged presidential election that reinstated dictator Alexander Lukashenko and ignited nationwide protests.
Promising prayers for “dramatic situations in the world that are causing people to suffer,” the pontiff said his thoughts go to “dear Belarus.”
“I am following attentively the post-electoral situation in that nation and I call for dialogue, the rejection of violence and the respect for justice and the law,” the pope told crowds gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for his weekly Angelus address. “I entrust all Belarusians to the protection of the Madonna, Queen of Peace.”
Belarus’ presidential election last weekend ended with Lukashenko winning nearly 80 percent of the vote, continuing his uninterrupted 26-year reign.
Last Sunday, over 1,000 citizens gathered in the capital, Minsk, to protest the election results, with the demonstrations quickly turning violent as state security forces descended on the capital to quell the unrest.
Riot police employed flash grenades, tear gas, and water cannons to disperse crowds and crack down on protesters.