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Protests against Lukashenko: Mass arrests in Belarus

Protests against Lukashenko
Mass arrests in Belarus

In the winter months it became quiet about the opposition movement in Belarus. Leaders are in exile and open protest is risky for those who stayed. There was supposed to be a first major demonstration today, but the security forces successfully used a deterrent.

Accompanied by a large police presence, there have been isolated new protests against the ruler Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus. In some cases, security forces acted brutally during arrests, as photos and videos on social networks show. The Wesna Human Rights Center listed the names of more than 170 people arrested by the evening.

A video shows how emergency services dressed in black pushed a man to the ground in a meadow and women walk in between. The protests had previously been announced in appeals as the first major action by the opposition this year. However, the demonstration was prevented by a massive police presence. The opposition therefore called for small, decentralized actions.

Later it was said that passers-by had been arrested indiscriminately, for example at bus stops. The journalists’ association announced that there were several media representatives among them. A correspondent for Deutsche Welle (DW) was also affected. Nicholas Connolly was arrested while filming in the afternoon and held for around five hours, Deutsche Welle said in the evening. It was already the second arrest of Connolly within a week.

Horns are also forbidden

There had been no major protests over the winter – also for fear of police violence. It was not until Thursday that hundreds of people took to the streets against Lukashenko for the first time on the so-called Freedom Day. The authorities said there were more than 200 arrests. Accordingly, it was also investigated against motorists who honked on the street out of solidarity with the demonstrators.

After the presidential election on August 9, which was widely considered to be falsified, hundreds of thousands of people demanded Lukashenko’s resignation and new elections. The police brutally attacked demonstrators and arrested tens of thousands. The head of state, criticized as the “last dictator in Europe”, had himself declared the winner again after 26 years in power.

The EU no longer recognizes him as president. Lukashenko can count on Russia as an ally. The civil rights activist Svetlana Tichanowskaja, who is seen by the opposition as the true winner of the presidential election, again promoted negotiations with the authoritarian leadership under international mediation on Saturday. So a “peaceful way out of the crisis in Belarus” could be found, she wrote on Telegram. More than 750,000 people have already voted to start such negotiations on a specially set up online platform.

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