In Belarus, protests against ruler Lukashenko continued, on Saturday thousands again took to the streets of Minsk, mostly women. Berlin apparently wants to engage the country’s ambassador.
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Despite a strict ban on demonstrations, thousands of women protested against the head of state Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus. They walked through the capital Minsk on Saturday, as can be seen in photos on social networks. Police and special police units lined the city center to obstruct the protest march to Independence Square. Emergency services and buses were also standing by for possible arrests, a reporter from the German news agency reported on the spot.
Police warned in announcements that the action was not allowed. Metro stations in the capital were temporarily closed. The purpose of the protest “Great Parade of Women Peacekeepers” is to bring about the release of prisoners, prosecute police brutality and secure new elections. Several men were arrested in the margins of the action.
Elections in Belarus not recognized internationally
Women occupy a prominent position in the democracy movement in Minsk. A protest march of about two kilometers long was planned from Freedom Square through downtown to Independence Square.
The leader of the democracy movement is activist Svetlana Tichanovskaya. The 37-year-old took on Lukashenko in the presidential election on August 9, but Lukashenko claims victory after 26 years in power. The election commission gave him 80.1 percent of the vote, while Tichanowskaya was only 10 percent. The choice is criticized internationally as grossly falsified.
Thousands of arrests since the protests began
Lukashenko’s supporters also took to the streets on Saturday. The state agency Belta published photos of cars with the red and green flag. Contrary to the protests of the opposition, these actions are allowed.
Security forces had taken repeated action against protesters in recent days. According to the Interior Ministry, there were 32 arrests on Friday – after about 260 the day before. At the start of the protests, the uniformed men arrested nearly 7,000 people. After that, the security forces largely held back.
Western countries condemn violence
The US, the EU, Great Britain and Switzerland sharply criticized the violent crackdown on Saturday. “We condemn the disproportionate use of force and call on the Belarusian authorities to cease violence and threats of military force against the country’s own citizens,” the three countries’ and EU representations in Minsk said in a statement. joint statement.
Recently, journalists have also been targeted by the authoritarian government. A reporter from the German news agency in Minsk reported that the accreditations had been withdrawn from several representatives of Western media. Some have already been expelled from the country. The authorities apparently want to prevent coverage of the nationwide protests.
ARD camera team held overnight
The country’s journalists’ association spoke of a massive revocation of work permits for media representatives from Belarus who worked for foreign television or radio stations, newspapers and news agencies. According to the WDR, an ARD camera team detained in a police station at night was also hit. It was released again Saturday morning.
“If journalists are arbitrarily detained without any legal basis and are unable to do their important work by withdrawing their work permit, then that is not at all acceptable,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) said on Saturday, according to a statement. Independent reporting must be fully guaranteed. “This attack on freedom of the press is another dangerous step towards more repression rather than dialogue with the population.” Diplomatic circles said that the Belarusian ambassador in Berlin would be summoned to Foreign Affairs in time.
Putin assures Lukashenko of support
WDR program director Jörg Schönenborn was shocked. “This shows again that independent reporting in Belarus is becoming increasingly difficult and near impossible,” he said. The US Embassy in Minsk has asked the authorities not to imprison journalists or to block Internet access. Tichanovskaya criticized the cancellation of accreditations as an attempt to scare and intimidate society.
Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin reiterated that he had no doubts about the election victory. “As you know, I congratulated Alexander Lukashenko on his victory,” he said in an interview with the state television broadcaster Rossiya 1. On the charges of forgery, he said: nothing in the world is “ideal” – “neither in politics, nor in politics. Economy still in the social field “.
Putin had previously announced publicly for the first time that he would send troops from Russia’s Interior Ministry if the situation in the neighboring country escalated. Moscow had previously warned the West several times not to get involved in the power struggle.