KYIV, Ukraine — Police in Belarus said they arrested over 400 protesters who participate in a weekend protest demanding the resignation of the country’s authoritarian president after a contested vote.
Soldiers obstructed the middle of Minsk with water cannons, armored personnel carriers along with the barbed wire.
Protests also took place in many different cities, such as Brest, where police used tear gas in a bid to disperse the crowd.
Human rights activists estimated that the audience in Minsk at roughly 100,000 people. Authorities, however, said a total of over 20,000 people rallied in towns and cities all around the nation.
According to a police announcement Monday, a total of 442 protesters were arrested on Sunday, including 266 in Minsk. Police stated 330 of these remained in custody since they wait for hearings in court.
Protests began on Aug. 9, after Lukashenko won his sixth term in office at an election resistance supporters and lots of European authorities believe was rigged. Demonstrations have happened daily because of the vote, although the agendas on Sundays in Minsk are the biggest, attracting audiences of around 200,000 people.
Lukashenko, who’s conducted the ex-Soviet state of 9.5 million with an iron fist since assuming office in 1994, repressing the opposition and independent press, has resisted suggestions of conversation with the resistance. Many protesters expired.
Amid global outrage, Belarusian police switched into prosecuting top activists and mass detentions, preventing large scale violence. Many members of the Coordination Council which was shaped by the resistance to push for a glimpse of power have been detained or forced to depart the country.
In reaction to the crackdown, resistance supporters released private data of over 1,000 police officers on Saturday. “nobody will stay anonymous, even below a balaclava,” popular resistance site Next Live about the Telegram messaging program said, promising to launch more information if detentions continue.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya,” Lukashenko’s most important competition at the Aug. 9 election who’s now in exile in Lithuania after fleeing Belarus in fear for her safety and her kids, has condemned the crackdown on the protesters as unlawful.
In a video statement released Monday, she advocated law enforcement officers to refrain from”offense and unethical activities towards your fellow taxpayers, even if pressured by your superiors.”
“Be together with the Belarusian people, and the people won’t forget that you’re in their side,” Tsikhnaouskaya explained.
Ales Bialiatski, head of the Viasna human rights group, told The Associated Press the loyalty of their security forces is critical for Lukashenko.
“Loyalty of these security forces is essential to get Lukashenko’s ability to hang on to power,” Bialiatski stated Monday. “It’s by the hands of the people that large scale political repression is performed in the middle of Europe.”