Lukashenko’s police have threatened the use of firearms against demonstrators and 13,000 people have already been arrested. Nevertheless, more than 30,000 take to the streets in Minsk.
Tens of thousands of people protested against the government in the Belarusian capital Minsk on Sunday, despite the police threatening the use of firearms. The crowd called for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko. Last week the police leadership said they reserved the right to use firearms against demonstrators.
The Interfax news agency reported that more than 30,000 people had joined the rally on Sunday. Around 50 demonstrators were arrested. The cellular network was disrupted in parts of the capital. In the vicinity of the rally, loud noises could be heard that sounded like stun grenades.
More than 13,000 arrests in Belarus since the election
The protests were triggered by the presidential election on August 9, in which Lukashenko was re-elected with 80 percent of the vote, according to official information. The demonstrators, but also the European Union, do not recognize the election. Since then, the mass protests have not stopped, especially in Minsk. There have been several strikes in Belarus, which is a close ally of Russia.
The security forces in Belarus, a former Soviet republic, have arrested more than 13,000 people so far. Opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya, who had gone to safety in Lithuania, called on President Lukashenko last week to resign by October 25th. Otherwise there will be nationwide strikes that will cripple the country.