Belarus election protests rage on
For the third night in Belarus, protests against falsifying the results of Sunday’s presidential election continued, in which, according to the election commission, authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko won again. Interventions by special police units were also brutal on Tuesday evenings and during the night, as documented by footage published on social networks. In Brest, the police shot a man with sharp ammunition, according to the authorities, it was a necessary defense. The state agency Belta wrote that protest coordinators had been arrested in Minsk.
According to the tut.by, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of the Interior, Volha Čamadanová, said that one person had been shot dead in Brest. She claimed that the police officers were “attacked by a group of aggressive citizens with iron bars.” The shots in the air did not stop them, so others followed. “One of the attackers” was injured.
The Belta news agency reported in the morning without further details that a man had been detained who had rented a room on the 16th floor of the Minsk Hotel in Belarus, from which he coordinated the events. He allegedly led three men, who gave instructions to hundreds of other people with whom they were connected.
Since Sunday’s election, thousands of protesters have been taking to the streets in Belarus, dissatisfied with Lukashenko’s government and rejecting his rigged victory. But the president has made it clear that he is determined to hold office with “all means.”
During the first two nights of the protests, dozens of people were injured in dispersing the crowds, and, according to the Interior Ministry, police arrested 5,000 people. More than 1,000 more detainees have been added since Tuesday night. According to the Ministry of Health, ambulances transported 51 new injured civilians to hospitals. Fourteen police officers also suffered injuries.
A spokeswoman for Chamadan told AFP that the number of protesters last night was lower than before and the number of cities where protests took place. TASS wrote that 17 prosecutions had already been initiated for assaulting police officers. According to the authorities, the damage caused during the riots in the metropolis reached half a million Belarusian rubles (CZK 4.5 million).
According to the still preliminary results of the election with the participation of more than 80 percent of voters, Lukashenko won with 80 percent of the vote. However, the election commission has not yet announced the date for announcing the final full results. According to the TASS agency, it has a deadline of 19 August.
Problems with the Internet lasted all night in Belarus, according to the tut.by server, access was partially restored in the morning. According to the opposition, the authorities’ tactics limit the possibility of contacts between people and, in this way, to achieve a reduction in the number of protesters.
According to observers, the crackdown on the protesters is escalating, and their toughness tonight has surpassed police officers’ brutality from the previous two evenings. Once again, images appeared showing the beating of protesters with batons and their arrests.
The situation in Belarus will also be discussed at an extraordinary meeting by the European Union’s foreign ministers. According to Swedish Minister Ann Linde, the meeting will take place on Friday, and there could be the talk of sanctions against the Lukashenko regime. On Monday, Poland called for the post-election situation in Belarus to be discussed by the prime ministers and presidents of EU countries.