Sunday 25th October 2020
New mass protests and a general strike are imminent in Belarus: The opposition wants to persuade the ruler Lukashenko to make room for the democracy movement. In a telephone conversation with the dictator, US Secretary of State Pompeo symbolically expresses solidarity with the opponents of the regime.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a telephone conversation with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that the United States supports the democracy movement in the Eastern European country. As the US State Department announced, Pompeo also campaigned for the release of a US political scientist who had been arrested in Belarus.
Pompeo had insisted that the scientist and campaign strategist Vitali Shkliarov should be allowed to leave the country, said a ministry spokesman. Shkliarov was wrongly arrested. According to his lawyer, the renowned political scientist of Belarusian origin was released from prison and placed under house arrest on Monday.
The graduate of the famous Harvard University, who had advised former US President Barack Obama, former US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and other presidential candidates in Russia and Ukraine, was arrested in the run-up to the controversial Belarusian presidential election on August 9 . Shkliarov is accused of organizing actions to disrupt public order. According to his family and US officials, the political scientist is said to have been arrested solely for criticizing Lukashenko.
Tichanowskaja comments on demos on Youtube
Meanwhile, an ultimatum by the Belarusian opposition against the regime expires on Sunday, without Lukashenko having complied with the demands. Therefore, despite the ban on demonstrations, the democracy movement has called for a new mass protest. The organizers announced that calls for the release of all political prisoners, for Lukashenko to resign and for new elections to be in the foreground.
Traditionally, tens of thousands to 100,000 people are expected in the capital Minsk at the Sunday demonstrations. The Interior Ministry once again warned in advance against participating in the unauthorized protests. Uniforms in balaclavas repeatedly use brute force and brutal arrests against the peaceful opponents of Lukashenko.
As the initiator of the people’s ultimatum, civil rights activist Svetlana Tichanowskaja wants to follow and comment on the protests live on Youtube this time in her EU exile. The 38-year-old had given Lukashenko the deadline of Sunday to resign and clear the way for new elections. Lukashenko had released some prisoners from prison, but no more concession is in sight.
Loyalty to the regime refuse to travel to Minsk
Tichanowskaja is therefore organizing a general strike across the country while in exile in the EU country Lithuania. At a women’s march on Saturday, many demonstrators announced that they would take part in the action on Monday. But analysts doubt that Tichanovskaya will be able to achieve a great deal because of her stay abroad.
Since the controversial presidential election on August 9, there have been protests in the ex-Soviet republic because Lukashenko, after 26 years in power, was declared the winner with around 80 percent of the vote. The democracy movement claims victory for Tichanovskaya. The EU supports Lukashenko’s opponents and no longer recognizes him as president. The 66-year-old has support from Russia.
An initiative by the power apparatus – as has already happened several times – to bring thousands of Lukashenko’s supporters to the capital by buses and special trains and at the expense of the taxpayer caused amusement in opposition circles. Lukashenko had to call off the action shortly before. He said that the expected influx of 200,000 to 300,000 people in Minsk was so great that the capital was threatened with traffic collapse. According to independent media reports, the real reason for the cancellation is a massive refusal of people to travel to Minsk. Many also cited the danger posed by the corona virus. Lukashenko’s opponents have been defying the threat of the pandemic for weeks.