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Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s campaign said she fled her apartment due to safety reasons after police detained several of its senior staffers, in what critics called an attempt to intimidate the opposition ahead of the crucial vote.

Meanwhile, her adviser Veronika Tsepkalo fled Belarus for Moscow for safety reasons, the campaign told CNN on Sunday.

Tsepkalo’s husband, former Belarusian ambassador to the US, Valery Tsepkalo, was not allowed to register as a candidate and had previously gone to Russia with their children, fearing for their safety after receiving threats of arrest.

The main candidate, Tikhanovskaya, has previously said in interviews she had to send her children abroad after receiving threats they will be placed in an orphanage.

“She [Tikhanovskaya] won’t spend the night at home so that she is not alone,” Tikhanovskaya’s campaign said. “But she is not fleeing Minsk, she will remain in the city.”

Tikhanovskaya, a former English tutor, became an unexpected rival and face of the opposition in the past two months after taking over from her husband, Sergey Tikhanovskiy, a popular YouTube blogger and former candidate who has been jailed since May.

Tikhanovskaya joined forces with two women who ran other opposition campaigns after their candidates were also either barred from running or jailed.

Her campaign rallies saw big turnouts even in small Belarussian towns that are not known for their protest activity. The largest event in the capital of Minsk this July gathered around 63,000 people, making it the biggest demonstration in the past decade.

On the eve of the vote, Tikhanovskaya’s campaign manager Maria Kolesnikova was briefly detained and taken to a police station for questioning. A day before that, campaign manager Maria Moroz was also briefly detained.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko with his son Nikolai (left) during the Victory Day military parade on June 24 in Moscow.

The election has seen a massive turnout, according to official data, with the country’s Central Elections Committee reporting 65.19% turnout as of 2 p.m. local time.

Users in central Minsk had difficulties accessing major internet services and social media networks on Sunday, according to multiple local media reports and a CNN stringer on the ground.

Most apps and websites are taking longer to load, including Whatsapp, Viber, and Facebook messenger. Telegram messenger, which serves as the main communication tool for Belarusian opposition, has been unavailable at times or only accessible via proxy servers.

NetBlocks, an NGO that tracks internet shutdowns worldwide, said in a tweet it has recorded significant disruptions in Belarus: “Real-time network data show social media and other services now becoming unavailable on multiple fixed-line and cellular operator.”

Lukashenko has ruled the former Soviet republic of more than 9 million people since 1994. He has long drawn international criticism for suppressing dissent, and the country’s secret police — still known as the KGB — often detain and harass opposition activists and independent journalists.

US State Department expresses concern at crackdowns under 'Europe's last dictator'

Independent observers in Belarus such as the “Honest people” volunteer monitoring group said they have found significant discrepancies between the officially announced turnout and the number of people entering the polling stations they were able to count.

Most independent observers have been barred from monitoring this election. Several dozen independent observers have been detained on Saturday and early Sunday, according to the “Honest people” and “Right to choose” monitoring initiatives.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said in July it will not be sending observers to Belarus due to no invitation from the country’s authorities and expressed “deep concern at reports that prospective candidates had been intimidated and opposition activists arrested.”

In the run-up to the election, law enforcement seemingly stepped up its crackdown efforts as riot police made multiple arrests to break up impromptu demonstrations against Lukashenko. Local media outlets have warned of a possible internet shutdown in case protests erupt across the country.

Lukashenko is facing the toughest challenge in his 26 year-long rule: thousands of opposition supporters poured to the streets in past weeks to voice discontent with the economic situation, poor coronavirus response and lack of personal freedoms and reforms in the country.

Journalist Mikalai Anishchanka in Minsk contributed to this report.

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Australia’s coronavirus lockdown strategy worked. Could this be a model for the US?

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But Andrews — a Labor Party politician who has run Australia’s second-largest state since 2014 — has remained popular with Victorians throughout the lockdown, local polls show. And this week, his hardline approach was thoroughly vindicated.
On Sunday, Victoria recorded just 11 new coronavirus cases, down from over 670 at the height of the most recent outbreak last month. Next week, Melbourne will begin lifting some restrictions if new cases remain below a fortnightly average of 50 per day. A nightly curfew is slated to remain in effect until October 26.
“We can do this,” Andrews tweeted Sunday, echoing his words at the beginning of the lockdown: “We are Victorians — and we will get through this as Victorians. With grit, with guts and together.”
And while it may have provoked outrage from some elements of the Australian media, and criticism from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Victoria’s experience shows once again that targeted lockdowns are effective in containing the coronavirus: driving down infections, relieving pressure on hospitals and medical staff, and creating space for contact tracing and mass testing.
This was first shown in China, where the government imposed an intense lockdown on Wuhan, the city where cases of the virus were first detected late last year. Wuhan spent 76-days under lockdown, which was finally lifted as the daily caseload slowed to a trickle.
That was back in April, and now Wuhan is basically back to normal, even able to host massive water park raves without much concern. And the model has been successfully applied to other cities across China, including the capital Beijing, suppressing new spikes as they appear and keeping national figures down.

“The Covid-19 epidemic in our country has gone through four waves,” Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Saturday. “Besides the first wave (in Wuhan), the other epidemic waves were clusters that were regional and small-scale and were effectively controlled.”

For some lockdown skeptics, China’s experience was easy to dismiss: the country is an authoritarian, one-party state, and its methods could not necessarily be applied in democracies.

But the situation in Victoria proves that the lockdown strategy does work elsewhere, and that, given the proper information and reassurances, people are willing to make the sacrifices required to contain the virus.

With the outbreak in Victoria contained, the number of cases throughout the rest of Australia has continued to trend down. On Sunday, New South Wales, which includes Sydney, reported four new cases, while Queensland state reported just one.

New Zealand too, which on Monday began reducing social distancing regulations after daily cases dropped to zero, has seen positive results from lockdowns, enabling the country to return to relative normality far faster than nations which did not take such measures.

Elsewhere, however, lockdown strategies have been less successful, with partial closures bringing with them the misery of a full lockdown while not actually containing infections. This could make it far more difficult to introduce further restrictions in future, such as when infections spike in winter months, as most experts believe will happen.
There is also considerable political resistance to lockdowns, or even partial shutdowns, in some countries, particularly the United States, where last week Attorney General William Barr said a nationwide closure would be the “greatest intrusion on civil liberties” in history “other than slavery.”
Potential lockdowns have also provoked backlash in the European Union and United Kingdom in recent days, despite a spike in case numbers across the continent.

The US, however, remains the worst hit country in the world, with more than 6.7 million coronavirus cases and almost 200,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. As those figures potentially rise through winter, and with less and less reason to go outside, some people may start to reconsider their anti-lockdown sentiment.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested that authorities in Melbourne would consider lifting a nighttime curfew next week. The curfew is currently in effect until October 26.

CNN’s Angus Watson and Eric Cheung contributed reporting.



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Cruz: Ginsburg was ‘one of the finest Supreme Court litigators to have ever lived’

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“He obviously worked every day with Justice Ginsburg, and I will say he admired what a careful lawyer she was,” he said. “Consistently of the lawyers on the left, of the judges on the left. Chief Justice Rehnquist was always most willing to give an important opinion to Justice Ginsburg because she wrote narrow, careful opinions.”

Cruz also honed in on the importance of filling Ginsburg’s vacancy with a constitutionalist judge ahead of the November election. The senator had been on President Donald Trump’s shortlist of Supreme Court nominees.

“We’re one vote away from seeing our religious liberty rights stripped away, from our free speech stripped away, from our Second Amendment stripped away,” he added. “This election matters, and I think it is the most important issue in 2020 — electing presidents and a Senate who will nominate and confirm strong constitutionalists to the court.”

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Matt Hancock Says “Everybody” Should Report Their Neighbours If They Flout Coronavirus Rules

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Matt Hancock has urged people to shop their neighbours if they fail to follow coronavirus rules (Credit: PA)


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Matt Hancock has urged people to report their neighbours for flouting coronavirus rules as he announced heavy new penalties for those who fail to self-isolate when asked.

The health secretary said he would not hesitate to alert the authorities if he became aware of anyone breaking the new “rule of six” restrictions and that “everybody should” do likewise. 

It comes after the government revealed new legal powers to hand out £10,000 fines to people who do not quarantine if they test positive for the virus, rates of which are rising rapidly across the country.

The measures also include a £500 support payment for those on lower incomes who have to self-isolate and cannot work from home, and a penalty for employers who punish employers for doing so.

Mr Hancock said the UK was at a “tipping point” and could face tougher national restricions if people fail to heed new guidelines.

“I don’t want to see more measures but unfortunately if people don’t follow the rules that’s how the virus spreads,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge.

“Everyone faces a choice and it comes down to individual moments – should I go to that party where there might not be social distancing? 

“The answer is no, you should not.”

Mr Hancock said local lockdowns had brought cases “right under control” in parts of the country, as London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned the capital could be placed under additional curbs as soon as Monday.

And the health secretary said he would “not rule out” Londoners being asked to work from home, as he prepared to meet City Hall officials on Sunday.

He told Times Radio: “I’ve been talking to the Mayor of London over the weekend about what’s needed in London and that’s an example of local action in the same way that I was talking about the councils in the north east.  And then we took action in Lancashire…and we had to bring in more measures in Wolverhampton.

“The conversation is…an ongoing one with the mayor.”

PoliticsHome is maintaining a live map of local lockdown restrictions across the UK, which is viewable here.

A source close to the mayor said on Saturday: “It’s clear that cases in London are only moving in one direction, we are now just days behind hotspots in the North West and North East.

“We can’t afford more delay. Introducing new measures now will help slow the spread of the virus and potentially prevent the need for a fuller lockdown like we saw in March, which could seriously damage the economy once again.”

Mr Hancock promised the UK has “got the cavalry coming over the next few months; the vaccine, the mass testing and the improvement in treatments”.

“But we’ve got to all follow the rules between now and then to keep people safe,” he told the BBC.

Asked what he expected the death rate could be if people failed to do so, the health secretary said: “It’s unknowable, because it depends on the behaviour of every single person in this country.”

Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer warned new legal powers were not a “silver bullet” and urged ministers to fix the struggling test and trace programme.

He said Boris Johnson should apologise to the nation for the system’s failings and restart daily press briefings “so everybody knows what’s going on”.

“I don’t think a national lockdown is inevitable.  I think it’s more likely because testing is all over the place,” he told Sky News.

“I think one of the conerns I have and a lot of people have is because the government has lost control of testing, it doesn’t know where the virus is.”

He added: “We are in this position just when we need testing to be at its best.”

The Labour leader also called for schoolchildren to be prioritised for testing to avoid mass school closures, with tests and results offered within a 48-hour period.

 

 

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