People with old Belarusian national flags march during an opposition rally to protest the results of the August presidential election in Minsk, Belarus, on Sunday, October 18, 2020.
Author: TASR / AP
Thousands of Belarusians took to the streets of Minsk on Sunday to protest against Alexander Lukashenko, who was declared the winner of the August presidential election by the election commission.
Arrests were again made during the march in Minsk, with police randomly taking people who were not directly involved in the protest. So far, at least 50 people have been detained, according to Interfax, the Viasna Human Rights Center.
Unlike previous protests, when protesters gathered in the center of Minsk, on Sunday they marched along Partizanska Avenue – the main transport artery in the southeastern part of Minsk, where many factories are located.
The Nexta Live channel, which coordinates demonstrators on the Telegram social media platform, called on Belarusians to show solidarity with state-owned workers during a protest called the Partisans’ March.
“We, the descendants of famous soldiers and partisans, are worthy of our ancestors, who have once defeated fascism,” wrote the Nexta Live channel, which has two million followers.
AFP recalled that during World War II, Nazi-occupied Belarus had the largest partisan movement in Europe.
Before the march, several metro stations in the center of Minsk were closed again.
Military trucks were also ready, and telephone networks did not operate in the traditional mode again. The local MTS operator admitted that it had been ordered to restrict access to the network in order to “ensure state security”.
Protests against Lukashenko also took place on Sunday in other cities in Belarus, e.g. in Hrodna, Gomel, Vitebsk or Brest. All actions were monitored by the police and unknown persons in the civilian state. Detainees are also reported from the regions.
Today’s marches and rallies have taken place despite police arguing earlier this week that protests in the country are being radicalized, so law enforcement will use firearms “where necessary”, but in a “humane way” and selectively – only against protesters who resist.
Ivan Terteľ, head of the KGB secret service, in connection with plans to convene another Sunday march, accused that provocations were being prepared to “destabilize the situation in our country”.
Protests against the results of the presidential elections have continued in Belarus almost continuously since the day of their holding – August 9.
Although Alexander Lukashenko was declared the winner of the election by the authorities, the opposition does not recognize this result and considers the vote to be falsified.
Lukashenko’s chief challenger in the election, Sviatlana Cichanovska, who took refuge in Lithuania after the election, called on her supporters to push for their demands “peacefully but persistently” before Sunday’s protest.
“We will stop when every political prisoner is free, when law enforcement officials start defending the people and return to Belarus the rule of law and fair elections,” she said.
Cichanovska recently called on Lukashenko to relinquish power by October 25, otherwise a general strike will take place in Belarus.
As the news portal TUT.by reminded, 71 days have passed since the elections on Sunday and protests by a part of Belarus, dissatisfied with Lukashenko’s stay in power, continue, not only in the form of unauthorized rallies and marches, but also neighborhood meetings or individual acts such as the latest hanging a huge flag in the colors of the opposition – white-red-white – on the facade of a high-rise apartment building Kaskad.
The flag had dimensions of 71 × 36 meters. The action failed because the flag could not be stretched due to its size. The police patrol who came to the house cut the side ropes of the flag, but the inhabitants of the house managed to catch the sail and then also roll it up, thus protecting it from being confiscated by the police.
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