Tens of thousands of people demonstrated again against Belarusian head of state Lukashenko. The government responded by turning off mobile services. Arrests followed.
More than 250 people were arrested on Sunday during the new mass protests in Minsk against Belarusian head of state Alexander Lukashenko. The Ministry of the Interior announced in the capital. There were also protests in other cities in the country. In total, tens of thousands of people took part in Minsk alone – regardless of the demonstration ban.
Accusation: wearing illegal symbols
The people were arrested for attending an unauthorized mass event and for wearing illegal symbols. Many people carried the historic white, red and white flag of Belarus, which has become a symbol of the democracy movement. A large contingent of police and army took up positions in Minsk.
The mobile internet was turned off, which prevented the protesters from communicating via the demonstration route. Metro stations and underpasses were closed. Independence Square was surrounded by uniformed people and closed with metal bars, a reporter from the German news agency reported. In the Palace of the Republic in the city center, men in uniform tied barbed wire to the metal bars.
Fifth major Sunday demonstration
Prison vans and guards stood in many side streets. In the fifth major demonstration on Sunday since the controversial presidential election on August 9, the capital of the former Soviet Republic looked like a fortress. This time, the democracy movement called for a “march of heroes”, which should also be dedicated to imprisoned opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova. Hundreds of thousands had demanded Lukashenko’s resignation in previous demonstrations.
Since the election more than a month ago, there have been daily protests across the country. Lukashenko, 66, had recently changed the top of the security apparatus and called for tougher action against the protesters. During women’s protests traditionally organized on Saturday, masked men in uniform used brutal violence against demonstrators without identification. There were more than 100 arrests.