Around two hundred people were arrested on Sunday, September 27, in Belarus during protests bringing together tens of thousands against President Alexander Lukashenko – whose re-election is contested – according to Interior Ministry spokeswoman Olga Tchemodanova. Nearly 150 demonstrators had already been arrested on Saturday, mainly women gathered to protest against the regime, as well as journalists.
The opposition movement rallied early in the afternoon in the Belarusian capital against Alexander Lukashenko, who was unexpectedly sworn in this week, despite a protest movement unprecedented in weeks.
Mr. Lukashenko has been confronted since the presidential election of August 9 with an unprecedented challenge, tens of thousands of people taking to the streets every Sunday in Minsk to denounce his re-election deemed fraudulent, despite the repression of the movement.
In central Minsk, several metro stations were closed in anticipation of the march, and the Independence Palace, where Mr Lukashenko sits and where massive rallies converged lately, was bristling with barriers and heavily guarded by the riot police.
” A joke “
Videos were circulating in the morning on social media showing the deployment of armored vehicles in the streets of the capital, as well as water cannons, used for the first time this week to disperse protesters following the inauguration of the president. Several central squares and shopping centers where demonstrators have taken refuge in the past have also been closed.
” We are millions “Lukashenko’s rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said in a social media post on Sunday in support of the protesters, ” we will win “. On Saturday, some demonstrators held up portraits of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, while others chanted “Sveta, president”, in reference to the 38-year-old opposition figure.
A refugee in Lithuania, the latter claims victory in the election after an election campaign in which this newbie in politics galvanized the crowds. Alexander Lukashenko, for his part, was sworn in on Wednesday this week for a sixth term, sparking further protests the same day. The ceremony at the presidential palace was not announced and took place on the sly. “This alleged investiture is obviously a farce”, had denounced Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
“It is clear that Lukashenko must go”
The German government has ruled that ” the secret “ surrounding the investiture ceremony was “Revealing” weaknesses of the regime and that for lack of “Democratic legitimacy”, Berlin did not recognize the re-election of Mr Lukashenko. The European Union has indicated that it does not recognize Lukashenko’s legitimacy, as has the United States.
For his part, French President Emmanuel Macron is due to make his first visit from Monday to Wednesday to Lithuania and Latvia, two Baltic states which hope for his support in the face of the political crisis in neighboring Belarus and Russian pressure. “What is happening in Belarus is a crisis of power, an authoritarian power which cannot accept the logic of democracy and which hangs on by force. It is clear that Lukashenko must go ”, said for his part Mr. Macron on Sunday in an interview with Sunday newspaper (JDD).
Mr. Lukashenko, who accuses the West of having fomented the protest, promised a vague constitutional reform to respond to this political crisis but he excluded any dialogue with the detractors of the regime which he has piloted since 1994. He asked for it. help from his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, who has pledged much needed security support to Minsk and pledged a loan of $ 1.5 billion.
The regime jailed many cadres of the Opposition Coordination Council created by Mr.me Tikhanovskaya. Others have had to flee their countries. Maria Kolesnikova, one of her leading allies, is imprisoned and accused of endangering national security.