Belarus is reeling from protests. Close to 200,000 people took to the streets of Minsk on Sunday to call for the ousting of President Alexander Lukashenko.

Protesters say the recent presidential election of Sunday 9, which saw Lukashenko — who has been in power since 1994 — win with a reported 80 percent of the vote, was marred with fraud. The police violently cracked down on opposition supporters who had taken to the streets to protest the alleged poll-rigging. The Belarussian media outlet called the Sunday protests “the largest in the history of an independent Belarus.”

Last week police arrested 6,700 people who protested against the Soviet-style authoritarian leader. Hundreds of people were injured and two were killed. Belarussians claimed that security forces were torturing prisoners. 

As the embattled Lukashenko spoke at a Minsk tractor factory, workers booed him and chanted “leave.” Lukashenko was at first defiant, telling the booing crowds, “We held elections already. Until you kill me, there will be no other elections,” according to

His presidential opponent, opposition politician and former English teacher Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, said on Monday in a video address from Lithuania that she is ready to assume the mantle of leadership. Tsikhanouskaya is in hiding in Lithuania after being forced to leave the country following the crackdown.  

“I’m prepared to take responsibility and act as the nation’s leader during this period so the country settles down and gets back to normality,” she said. “The whole world is watching us with admiration and hope.”

Tsikhanouskaya, according to the Central Election Commission, received 10.12 percent of the vote while Lukashenko received 80.1.

With his hold on power slipping, Lukashenko did an about-face later on Monday. He said that he would be ready to hold new elections and hand over power after a constitutional referendum but that he would not do so under pressure from protesters.