MINSK, Belarus -- Thousands of people protested in Belarus for a second straight night Monday after official results from weekend elections -- dismissed by the opposition as a sham -- gave an overwhelming victory to authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, extending his 26-year rule until 2025.
Lukashenko responded with a tough crackdown on demonstrations, deriding the opposition as "sheep" manipulated by foreign masters.
Dozens were injured and thousands detained hours after Sunday's vote, when police brutally broke up mostly young protesters with tear gas, water cannons and flash-bang grenades and beat them with truncheons. Rights activists said one person died after being run over by a police truck -- which the authorities denied.
Election officials said Lukashenko won a sixth term in office with 80% of the vote, while opposition challenger Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya got 10%. Tsikhanouskaya submitted a formal request for a recount to the Central Election Commission.
On Monday evening, scattered groups of opposition supporters began gathering in downtown Minsk, chanting "Freedom!" and "Long live Belarus!" A heavy police contingent blocked central squares and avenues, moving quickly to disperse protesters and detained dozens.
The Viasna rights group said protesters also gathered in several other Belarusian cities, including Brest, Mogilev and Vitebsk, where detentions also took place.
The brutal police crackdown drew harsh criticism from European capitals and will likely complicate Lukashenko's efforts to mend ties with the West amid tensions with his main ally and sponsor, Russia.
But Lukashenko, whose iron-fisted rule since 1994 has fueled growing discontent in the ex-Soviet nation of 9.5 million, warned that he wouldn't hesitate to use force again to disperse the opposition demonstrations. He argued that the protesters met a due response overnight after injuring dozens of police officers and attempting to take control of official buildings in several Belarusian cities.
"We will not allow them to tear the country apart," he said.
The 65-year-old former state farm director asserted that the opposition was being directed from Poland and the Czech Republic, adding that some groups in Ukraine and Russia could also have been behind the protests.
"They are directing the [opposition] headquarters where those sheep don't understand what they want from them," he said in a dismissive reference to Tsikhanouskaya and her campaign.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek dismissed Lukashenko's claim, saying his country has not organized any protests.
The Interior Ministry said 89 people were injured during the protests late Sunday and early Monday, including 39 law enforcement officers, and about 3,000 people were detained, some 1,000 of them in Minsk. It insisted that no one was killed during the protests and called reports about a fatality "an absolute fake."
Tsikhanouskaya, a 37-year-old former English teacher without any prior political experience, entered the race after her husband, an opposition blogger who had hoped to run for president, was arrested in May. She has managed to unite fractured opposition groups and draw tens of thousands to her campaign rallies -- the largest opposition demonstrations since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
"We don't agree with [election results], we have absolutely opposite information," Tsikhanouskaya told The Associated Press on Monday. "We have official protocols from many poll stations, where the number of votes in my favor are many more times than for another candidate."Gallery: Riot police clash with protesters in Belarus
Internet and mobile networks went down after the polls closed as authorities tried to make it more difficult for protesters to coordinate.
The European Union condemned the police crackdown and called for an immediate release of all those detained.
Information for this article was contributed by Jim Heintz, Vladimir Isachenkov, Daria Litvinova, Lorne Cook, Matthew Lee, Danica Kirka, Vanessa Gera, Frank Jordans and Karel Janicek of The Associated Press.