During protests against ruler Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk, police used flash and sound grenades against protesters. Eyewitnesses reported several injuries on Telegram’s news channel. The Interior Ministry confirmed on Sunday the “use of special funds against violent protesters”.
You should have broken through a barrier beforehand. The sound of gunfire and explosions could be heard on videos, as well as thunderstorms or flashes. The vibrations triggered alarm systems on many cars in the affected area. There were several arrests.
Despite a massive police and military presence, more than 100,000 people had protested ruler Alexander Lukashenko on the eleventh Sunday in a row. People flocked from different directions in the center of Minsk to the “stele”, a place to commemorate the Second World War. “Long live Belarus!” They cried.
Many carried the historic white-red-white flag, as the internet portal of the opposition Strana dlja Schisni (A Land to Live) showed. A flag was hoisted from a lantern. The Wesna Human Rights Center reported more than 200 arrests in various cities in the country where there were also protests.
Authorities are turning off fast internet
In the city of Lida, authorities confirmed the use of tear gas. Hundreds of police and military officers had cordoned off the center of the capital, Minsk. Armed men in uniform with balaclavas took positions on the winners’ prospectus and the independence prospectus to prevent the demonstration on Sunday.
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The authorities closed all metro stations in the center to prevent the influx of people from the neighborhoods. They also turned off super-fast mobile internet so people couldn’t meet to protest.
Since the controversial presidential election on August 9, there have been protests in the former Soviet Republic as Lukashenko, after 26 years in power, was declared the winner with about 80 percent of the vote. The democracy movement claims victory for civil rights activist Svetlana Tichanowskaja. The EU supports Lukashenko’s opponents and no longer recognizes him as president. The 66-year-old is supported by Russia.
“Today is a special day,” said Tichanovskaya in exile in the EU during a live broadcast. Their popular ultimatum to Lukashenko expired on Sunday. The democracy movement is calling for an end to the police violence, the release of all political prisoners and a new election without Lukashenko.
Svetlana Tichanowskaja, opposition leader from Belarus, in October 2020. Photo: Photo: Mindaugas Kulbis / AP / dpa
While some members of the opposition have been released from prison, more concessions are not in sight. Tichanovskaya therefore urged people to participate in a nationwide general strike this Monday or simply stay at home. “The road will not be easy.” The fight against Lukashenko needs strength and persistence, she emphasized.
Public service employees are repeatedly threatened with dismissal when they oppose Lukashenko. Analysts doubt that Tichanovskaya can achieve much through her stay abroad.
The opponents of the power apparatus are, however, inspired not least by the presentation of the Sakharov Prize for Human Rights by the EU Parliament last Thursday. (dpa)