Before new mass protests in Belarus against the authoritarian head of state Alexander Lukashenko, a large contingent of police and army took up position in the capital Minsk. The independent news portal „tut.by“ reported at noon today from prisoner transporters, water cannons and military vehicles. The Independence Square was therefore closed. The Independence Palace was also widely cordoned off.
The Ministry of the Interior in Minsk announced that security forces were increasingly deployed. It issued an urgent warning against participating in the actions. There have been thousands of arrests in the past few weeks. The protests on Sundays are traditionally the most popular. A week ago it was a good 100,000 people.
Tichanovskaya addressed demonstrators
The opposition had called for new protests that afternoon. The civil rights activist Svetlana Tichanowskaja said to the demonstrators: „Each of you protests first for your own freedom.“ This time, however, the action is also about the freedom of all political prisoners, she said. „The Belarusians want to live in freedom and not in prison.“
Since the controversial presidential election in early August, Belarus has experienced the largest protests in the history of the ex-Soviet republic. Lukashenko was confirmed in office with 80.1 percent of the votes – after 26 years in power. The opposition, however, considers Tichanovskaya to be the real winner.
Several members of the opposition have already fled in custody or abroad, including the Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexijewitsch. She said at a book fair in Italy on Sunday that she wanted to return to Belarus, but did not know whether she would be allowed back home. She left Belarus for Berlin last Monday. She would have been arrested “sooner or later,” she said.