New demonstration of the Belarusian opposition; dozens of arrests

Published on : 22/11/2020 – 22:30

Thousands of people again demonstrated in the streets of the Belarusian capital on Sunday to protest against President Alexander Lukashenko’s retention in power after his controversial re-election in early August.

The Belarusian opposition is not disarming. More than three and a half months after the controversial re-election of Alexander Lukashenko, thousands of demonstrators again braved a large security deployment in the streets of Minsk to cry out their opposition to the regime.

Several columns of demonstrators, some tens of thousands of people according to an AFP journalist, marched in different districts of Minsk, the Belarusian capital, chanting “Long live Belarus!” and waving red and white flags, the colors of the opposition.

Police officers, as well as armored vehicles and water cannons were deployed in large numbers to Minsk shortly before the start of the demonstration at 10:00 GMT.

About 70 demonstrators were arrested by the police, according to the Viasna human rights center.

On social networks, Belarusian internet users have reported clashes with riot police in some building yards, with supporting videos.

“I cannot accept what is happening now (…). I want to throw up when I think of the people who are in power in the country and the values ​​they defend,” told AFP one of the demonstrators, Olga Mamtchits, a 22-year-old computer scientist.

“They want to defile our dignity with mud. It is for my dignity, for the future of my grandchildren that I come to demonstrate,” said Alexander Ignatov, 72-year-old retiree.

Mobile network cut

Belarusian opposition figurehead Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, in exile in Lithuania, hailed Sunday’s protest as a further step towards a “free and fair Belarus,” in a message of support to protesters posted on Saturday evening on messaging Telegram.

“We cannot make a country a prison if no one is afraid of the jailers,” she said.

Before the demonstration, a dozen metro stations were closed and the mobile network was experiencing cuts, according to an AFP journalist.

The Belarusian opposition is demanding the resignation of Alexander Lukashenko, reelected for a sixth term in August despite accusations of massive fraud.

Weekly demonstrations on Sunday brought together up to 100,000 people in Minsk, a record in that country. The mobilization was however down in recent weeks.

Since the start of the protest, thousands of people have been arrested, at least four have died and dozens of others have denounced torture and violence suffered during their detention.

Supported by Moscow, Alexander Lukashenko, 66 years old and in power since 1994, refuses to leave his post and has only mentioned vague constitutional reforms in an attempt to calm the protest.

With AFP

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