The Belarusian Supreme Court has rejected an appeal lodged by self-exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya to annul the results of the disputed August 9 presidential election.
The ruling came on Tuesday, more than two weeks after President Alexander Lukashenko declared a landslide win at the vote, sparking mass protests and allegations of election rigging.
Also on Tuesday, Belarus jailed two opposition leaders for 10 days as the government pursued a crackdown on the few figures still at large, while schoolteachers led a new protest of thousands against Lukashenko.
Olga Kovalkova and Sergei Dylevsky were brought to separate courts where they were jailed for 10 days each.
Kovalkova is Tikhavovskaya’s main representative in Belarus, and Dylevsky has led strikes at Minsk’s flagship tractor factory.
Both are senior figures in an opposition Coordination Council, set up last week with the self-described aim of negotiating with the authorities. They were arrested on Monday.
Lukashenko has accused the council of attempting to seize power, and prosecutors have launched a criminal case.
In the latest protest, thousands gathered on Tuesday at the Ministry of Education to demonstrate against a threat by Lukashenko to fire any schoolteachers who do not support his government.
Rallies have typically attracted thousands during the week, swelling to tens of thousands on weekends.
“I have come so that teachers are not afraid, so that their voice can be heard, so that they can work even if they have a different view from the authorities,” said a literature teacher who gave her name as Svetlana.
Lukashenko has denied election cheating. He has called the protesters “rats” and says they are funded from abroad.
His posturing has grown steadily more confrontational: in recent days he has been pictured on state television with an assault rifle and tactical vest.
Yet so far, a long-standing threat of a decisive police operation to clear the streets has yet to materialise.
Another opposition council member, Pavel Latushko, a former culture minister and head of the main state drama theatre, was questioned by investigators on Tuesday but not arrested.
He emerged saying he would go back to work and the council’s activities were not illegal.
The council includes dozens of figures representing broad swathes of society. Nobel Prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich has been summoned for questioning on Wednesday.
“The intimidation will not work. We will not relent,” Tikhanovskaya said in a video link with the European Parliament.
“We demand all political prisoners freed. We demand to stop the violence and intimidation by the authorities.”