Cyprus blocks European Union sanctions on Belarus

Andrew Cummings
September 23, 2020

A medic provides care to a woman during an opposition rally on Saturday in Minsk, Belarus.

The strongman, who has ruled Belarus for more than a quarter of a century, has responded to the protests with a security clampdown and turned to his longstanding ally Russian Federation for help. The night of the results was marked by around 3000 arrests, with rubber bullets and tear gas deployed by riot police against protestors.

She fled to Lithuania after the election, while for a sixth straight weekend mass demonstrations took place against President Alexander Lukashenko in the capital of Minsk over the disputed August vote.

The Minsk demonstrators carried the red-and-white flags that were independent Belarus' national standard before being replaced in 1995, early in Mr Lukashenko's time in office.

Natalya Chizhevich, a 60-year-old retired teacher said she came every week.

Human rights activists estimated the crowd in Minsk at about 100,000 people. "I hope it will be solved but nevertheless, it's definitely disappointing".

Protests have continued for over three weeks, despite President Lukashenko's attempts to stop the demonstrations with security forces, rather than negotiating with the council created by opposition leader Sviatlana Tikhanovskaya (of which some members were arrested).

"This all gives us strength to fight on".

Before the march, police and internal troops had positioned military trucks and armored personnel carriers in the city center and set up barbed wire.

In the evening, large numbers of riot police with shields faced off against flag-waving protesters after detaining small numbers at the start.

"So the strategy now that seems to be coming from Lukashenko's regime is basically to treat everyone as violently as possible, making sure that people are so scared and intimidated that they will stop these protests", she said.

The government ordered a reduction in mobile internet coverage during the protests, while central Minsk metro stations were closed.

Tikhanovskaya refused to recognize the election results and called on the worldwide community to support the demonstrators.

"They are marching despite being constantly menaced and put under pressure", she said.

"As the arrests continue, we will continue to publish data on a massive scale", said a statement that was distributed by the opposition news channel Nexta Live on the messaging app Telegram. "No one will remain anonymous even under a balaclava".

The number was about three times as high as at the protests a week ago, when masked uniformed men used brutal violence against the peaceful demonstrators for the first time.

Opposition leader Tikhanovskaya on Saturday said Belarusians were ready to strip police obeying "criminal orders" of anonymity.

Moscow agreed to give a $1.5 billion USA loan to prop up Lukashenko's government following a meeting between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

European Union foreign ministers on Monday were weighing whether to impose sanctions on dozens of Belarus officials, including President Alexander Lukashenko, after his main opponent urged Europe to "be more brave" in taking action.

Authorities have jailed many of Tikhanovskaya's allies who formed the leadership of the Coordination Council or driven them out of the country.

She released a message to protesters on Sunday saying: "Freedom is worth fighting for".

Other reports by iNewsToday