Sunday, September 20, 2020
Home Europe Belarus protests: Opposition keeps up pressure on Lukashenko

Belarus protests: Opposition keeps up pressure on Lukashenko

Published

Tens of thousands of people are reportedly marching in the capital Minsk and other cities, in the latest of several weeks of mass protest against President Alexander Lukashenko.

Large numbers of police have been deployed, blocking key areas.

Police said they had arrested about 250 people ahead of the demonstration, dubbed the March of Heroes.

The protests have been triggered by a widely disputed election a month ago and subsequent brutal police crackdown.

Demonstrators want Mr Lukashenko to resign after alleging widespread ballot-rigging.

But the Belarusian leader – in power for 26 years – has denied the allegations and accuses Western nations of interfering.

The 66-year-old has promised to defend Belarus.

Most opposition leaders are now under arrest or in exile.

It is the fifth successive Sunday of mass protests, with about 100,000 rallying each week.

Eyewitnesses said the centre of Minsk was flooded with people. They are marching towards the elite residential area of Drozdy, where the country’s top officials including President Lukashenko live, but roads are blocked by police.

Rallies are also being held in Brest, Gomel, Mogilyev and other cities.

However, the Interior Ministry said that as of 15:00 local time (12:00 GMT) the protests involved no more than 3,000 people across the country.

image copyrightEPA

image captionMr Lukashenko has refused to make any concessions to the opposition

The ministry said arrests were made in various districts of the capital, and that those detained were carrying flags and placards “of an insulting nature”.

Video footage showed

men in balaclavas pulling people out of the crowds

gathering for the start of the march and taking them to unmarked minibuses.

Protests were triggered by elections on 9 August, in which Mr Lukashenko was handed an overwhelming victory amid widespread reports of vote-rigging.

Violent clashes on several nights following the poll led to thousands of arrests, and details emerged of severe beatings by police and overcrowding in detention centres.

This produced a new wave of demonstrations, with weekend rallies drawing tens of thousands.

Mr Lukashenko has said he may establish closer ties with Russia, his main ally.

On at least two occasions in the past few weeks, he has been photographed near his residence in Minsk carrying a gun and being surrounded by his heavily armed security personnel.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Thai activists install symbolic plaque

Image copyright Reuters Anti-government protesters have installed a plaque declaring Thailand "belongs to the people", in a bold show of opposition to the monarchy. The plaque was laid near Bangkok's Grand Palace in the latest challenge to Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn.Student-led protests calling for reform of the country's monarchy and political system have been going…

Trump says Oracle’s TikTok deal ‘has my blessing’

Image copyright EPA Image caption President Donald Trump had threatened to ban the app in the US unless a satisfactory deal was struck US President Donald Trump has expressed his approval of a deal that would allow Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok to continue operating in the US.Mr Trump told reporters he had given his "blessing"…

How the oil industry made us doubt climate change

By Phoebe KeaneBBC NewsPublishedduration8 hours agoAs climate change becomes a focus of the US election, energy companies stand accused of trying to downplay their contribution to global warming. In June, Minnesota's Attorney General sued ExxonMobil, among others, for launching a "campaign of deception" which deliberately tried to undermine the science supporting global warming. So what's…

Stars prepare to dial in for virtual Emmy Awards

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Ozark is nominated again, after its stars Julia Garner and Jason Bateman won Emmys last year TV stars are preparing to dial in to this year's Emmy Awards, which will take place as a virtual ceremony later.The usual star-studded event has been scrapped amid the coronavirus pandemic, so winners…