The state shows its power with huge contingents. But the protesters cannot be stopped. Also on Sunday, people in Belarus protested against ruler Lukashenko.

The people of Belarus once again defied the violence and intimidation attempts of their state power with mass protests. In the capital Minsk on Sunday afternoon, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in the rain against the controversial head of state Alexander Lukashenko. However, participation was noticeably lower than in previous weekends. Police again arrested hundreds of opponents of the government.

Since the controversial presidential election on August 9, tens of thousands of Belarusians have demonstrated against Lukashenko, who has ruled authoritarianism for 26 years. They accuse him of electoral fraud and demand new elections. She is convinced that opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya, who has since fled into exile, was the real winner of the election. In their protest, they are not deterred by the brutal actions of the security forces or by mass arrests.

Swearing in secret

Regardless of the protests, Lukashenko dropped out for a sixth term on Wednesday – the ceremony took place at the Palace of Independence without notice and was not broadcast on state television. As a result, Nexta Live, an opposition channel on the Telegram courier service to which more than two million people subscribed, called for a symbolic “inauguration of the true president by the people” on Sunday.

According to the police, the first arrests were made even before the demonstration started. AFP correspondents reported a huge presence of security around the Palace of Independence, Lukashenko’s residence. Several places in the center of the capital had been cordoned off; Metro stations and shopping centers, where protesters had fled violence by security forces at previous rallies, were closed. Water cannons and armored vehicles appeared in the streets.

According to the human rights organization Wiasna, dozens of arrests were made in Minsk when the police tried to break up the demonstration. In Gomel, the country’s second largest city, security forces used tear gas and in the eastern city of Mogilow, grenades were stunned against protesters.

200 arrests

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of the Interior confirmed to AFP news agency that there were 200 arrests in connection with the protests. However, she denied that stun grenades had been used. The security forces used equipment to “control riots”. On Saturday there were already 150 arrests at demonstrations in which mainly women took part.

Opposition leader Tichanowskaya spoke via video message from exile in Lithuania: “Today is the 50th day of our protests,” the 38-year-old said. “We have come to stop this regime and are doing it peacefully.”

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