Belarusian opposition politician Tsikhanouskaya asks supporters to back vote recount

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MOSCOW — Belarusian opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on Friday asked supporters to sign an online form demanding a recount of last Sunday’s presidential election in which she believes she was swindled out of victory.

In a video posted on YouTube, Tsikhanouskaya, who is in neighboring Lithuania, also asked supporters to back an official investigation into allegations that the election was falsified.

She called for an end to violence, that has surged in the wake of veteran leader Alexander Lukashenko’s contested re-election and asked all city mayors to organize peaceful gatherings this weekend.

She spoke after the Belarusian leadership began releasing thousands of detained protesters after issuing a rare public apology in an effort to quell nationwide street protests that pose the biggest challenge to Lukashenko’s 26-year rule. (Reporting by Alexander Marrow and Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Andrew Osborn)