Opposition candidate leaves Belarus, urges end to protests

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — The top opposition candidate in Belarus’ presidential vote, who initially refused to concede defeat amid a massive police crackdown on protests, says she has left the country for Lithuania. Looking tired and distressed, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a former teacher and political novice, apologized to her supporters in a video statement, saying that it was her own choice to leave Belarus and urged them to stop protests. Tsikhanouskaya initially dismissed as a sham the official results showing authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko’s landslide victory. She submitted a formal demand for a recount to Belarus’ Central Election Commission Monday. Thousands of opposition supporters protested against the official vote results.