Belarus protests- What’s happening?

Girl protesting in Belarus

Mass protests against the current government continue in Belarus, after President Alexander Lukashenko’s victory in August this year.

On Sunday, November 1st, tens of thousands of people came to the “March Against Terror” in Minsk. Radio Liberty Belarus Service (Radio Svaboda) reports that the march was then violently broken up by Belarusian security forces. According to human rights activists, 315 protesters were detained. 

This demonstration was timed to coincide with an annual march that commemorates victims of Stalin’s repressions which have been held in Minsk since 1988. For the first time in 32 years, the authorities decided to forcefully disperse it. From early morning they began to pull together armored vehicles with machine guns, water cannons and other anti-riot equipment in different districts of the capital. Later, the citizens lost access to mobile Internet. 

The peaceful protesters were fired at with rubber bullets, targeted with flash-bang grenades and beaten during arrests, according to the chairman of the human rights center ‘Vyasna’, Ales Bialiatski. Criminal cases were opened against 231 protesters, while the Investigative Committee did not open a criminal case against the security forces despite activists’ complaints about their tortures and other violent acts.

On November 2nd, pensioners and medical workers took to Minsk streets for regular Monday protests. The opposition mouthpiece, Telegram channel Nexta Live,  announced the protesters’ plans to stage the demonstrations on November 5th. This is the day when Lukashenko’s presidency will officially cease to be considered illegitimate by the decision of the European Parliament.

Earlier, the Belarusian opposition led by presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, put forward an ultimatum to Alexander Lukashenko — it gave him until October 25th to announce his resignation, free all political prisoners in Belarus and stop the violence against the population. Since these demands were not met, the Belarusians announced a nationwide strike.