Belarus protesters continue pressure on Lukashenko with new march
Tens of thousands of people marched through Minsk on Sunday calling on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to step down in mass demonstrations that showed no sign of abating nearly a month after an election his opponents say was rigged.
Columns of protesters defied a government warning not to march, waving red-and-white opposition flags and shouting “go away” and “you’re a rat”.
The human rights group Spring-96 said at least 70 people were arrested. Russia’s Interfax news agency reported several people were injured when police broke up a protest outside a state-run tractor factory.
Video footage shown by local media outlet TUT.BY showed women shouting “shame” at masked members of the security forces who dragged people away into detention. Troops, water cannon, armoured personnel carriers were deployed to the city centre ahead of the march.
“This sea of people cannot be stopped by military equipment, water cannons, propaganda and arrests. Most Belarusians want a peaceful change of power and we will not get tired of demanding this,” said Maria Kolesnikova, a leader of the Coordination Council set up by the opposition to try to arrange a dialogue with the 66-year-old Lukashenko about a transition of power.
Daragh McDowell, principal analyst at the global consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft, said economic factors are playing a significant role in the demonstrations with the country “rapidly running out of money”.