Belarus: 200 protestors detained as the demonstrations continue
Belarusian police detained about 200 people as tens of thousands took to the streets in support of opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, days after the country’s strongman president staged a secret inauguration.
Some dubbed the protest a “people’s inauguration” of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Lukashenko’s main opponent who fled into exile after the Aug. 9 election that Lukashenko’s opponents say was blatantly rigged to hand Lukashenko a sixth term.
Protesters chanted “impostor” and “Sveta is our president” as they marched through Minsk and other cities decked out in red-and-white opposition colors.
Ahead of Sunday’s march, the top opposition Telegram channel, Nexta Live, which has more than two million subscribers, urged Belarusians to stage a symbolic “people’s inauguration of the real president” Tikhanovskaya.
Armored vehicles and water cannon were deployed on the streets ahead of the protest, several metro stations in central Minsk were closed, and the Palace of Independence, Lukashenko’s residence, was heavily guarded by riot police and barriers.
Police used tear gas in the second largest city of Gomel and stun grenades in the eastern city of Mogilev, Viasna rights group said.
While Interior Ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova denied that police used stun grenades but confirmed that members of law enforcement used “riot control” equipment.
Lukashenko denies electoral fraud and was inaugurated on Wednesday in a ceremony held without any prior announcement, sparking more protests and condemnation from the European Union, the United States and Britain.
The opposition movement calling for an end to President Alexander Lukashenko’s rule has kept up a wave of large-scale demonstrations since his disputed election win last month, with about 100,000 or more people taking to the streets every weekend.