Minsk (dpa) – Accompanied by a large police presence, there have been isolated new protests against ruler Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus. Security forces were sometimes brutal when making arrests, as photos and videos on social networks showed.
The Wesna Human Rights Center listed the names of more than 60 people arrested by the afternoon. A video showed how emergency services dressed in black pushed a man to the ground in a meadow and women walked in between.
The protests had previously been announced in appeals as the first major action by the opposition this year. In media reports, however, there was initially no mention of crowds in the capital Minsk or other cities. The opposition therefore called for small, decentralized actions. It was said that passers-by were arrested indiscriminately at bus stops. The journalists’ association announced that there were several media representatives among them.
There had been no major protests over the winter – also for fear of police violence. It was not until Thursday that hundreds of people took to the streets against Lukashenko for the first time on the so-called Freedom Day. The authorities said there were more than 200 arrests. It was also investigated against motorists who honked on the street out of solidarity with the demonstrators.
After the presidential election on August 9, which was widely considered to be falsified, hundreds of thousands of people demanded Lukashenko’s resignation and new elections. The police brutally attacked demonstrators and arrested tens of thousands. The head of state, criticized as the “last dictator in Europe”, had once again been declared the winner after 26 years in power. The EU no longer recognizes him as president. He relies on Russia as an ally.
The civil rights activist Svetlana Tichanowskaja, who is seen by the opposition as the true winner of the presidential election, again campaigned for negotiations with the authoritarian leadership under international mediation on Saturday. In this way, a “peaceful way out of the crisis in Belarus” could be found, she wrote on Telegram. More than 750,000 people have already voted to start such negotiations on a specially set up online platform.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210327-99-994968 / 2