Thursday, October 1, 2020

Belarus police detain 250 protesters in Minsk as crowds swell

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Belarus police detained at the least 250 protesters as tens of hundreds demonstrated within the capital Minsk in advance of talks between strongman Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Security forces wearing riot gear used barbed wire to seal off the central sq. within the capital.  “Some 250 people were detained in various districts of the capital,” the inside ministry mentioned in a press release, including these arrested had been carrying flags and “offensive” placards.
Oktyabrskaya Square in central Minsk was fenced off with barbed wire with armed regulation enforcement forces seen behind it. Independence Square was additionally fenced off.
Demonstrators had been heading in direction of the Palace of Independence, President Lukashenko’s residence. “Soldiers rounded us up in several circles, people were selectively pulled out of the crowd and beaten,” one unidentified demonstrator advised Reuters information company.
Lukashenko – in energy for 26 years – is going through a groundswell of public anger after declaring a landslide win in final month’s presidential election that his opponents say was rigged. He denies the allegations. A protester with a historic white-red-white flag of Belarus is detained on Sunday [Tut.By via Reuters] ‘Snatching folks’ Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen, reporting by telephone from Minsk, mentioned the web was blocked and safety forces had been making it extraordinarily exhausting for protesters to assemble. Yet, she mentioned tens of hundreds rallied within the centre of the capital, though at totally different places than initially deliberate.
An Al Jazeera cameraman was briefly detained and nearly dragged right into a van however escaped, Vaessen reported. “Vans of masked policemen are driving around the city at high speed, stopping and snatching people from the street,” she mentioned. “It is very clear that the strategy today is to clamp down on any more moving towards the Sunday rally.”
On Saturday, at the least 5,000 folks marched via town demanding the discharge of a jailed opposition chief within the newest wave of mass protests after the August 9 presidential vote.
Meeting Putin
Key opposition figures of Belarus have been both jailed or pressured in another country. Lukashenko will go to Russia for talks with Putin on Monday as each nations begin joint army drills. 
Vaessen mentioned Lukashenko’s assembly with Putin was essential. “He wants to show that he has these protests under control, and images of very large gatherings are not something that he wants to see today.”
She mentioned the federal government and demonstrators had been digging in and neither needs to compromise.

The Belarus dilemma: Fighting Europe’s final dictatorship
“It’s a complete standoff. Lukashenko has repeated again and again that he is not willing to step down. People here are also not willing to stop the process because they have started something they are calling the ‘awakening of Belarus’. After so many years, 26 years of dictatorship, they have passed the point where they can accept it any more.”
Peter Zalmayev from the Eurasia Democracy Initiative mentioned the monthlong mass rallies every Sunday are single of their objective, the removing of Lukashenko and his “iron-fisted rule”. “The one goal the protesters have is to get rid of the guy and they’re doing it in a spectacularly democratic fashion with no single leader, with the leadership dispersed, and with a true popular uprising the likes of which Belarus has never witnessed,” Zalmayev advised Al Jazeera.
He mentioned the one motive Lukashenko was “hanging on” was due to the loyalty of his safety forces. “The big unknown is Vladimir Putin who has sent contradictory signals. From what we have seen, he is unwilling to contemplate a victory by a street protest, which would create a very unpleasant precedent for Russia and for Putin’s rule,” mentioned Zalmayev. SOURCE: Al Jazeera and information companies

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