Police in Belarus used stun grenades Sunday to disperse protesters, who after months of demonstrations, have threatened a national strike if longtime President Alexander Lukashenko does not resign by midnight.
News reports say than 100,000 protesters were in the streets of Minsk Sunday – the 11th in a row of demonstrations against Lukashenko’s contested victory in August presidential elections.
Video posted on RFE/RL showed police using stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse crowds as they marched to the Independence Palace in the capital, carrying the white and red flags that have come to symbolize the opposition movement.
Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who fled the country for her safety since the August election, has called for a national strike if Lukashenko does not resign by midnight.
Lukashenko has indicated he will ignore the ultimatum.
At least two people were injured by police in Sunday’s protests, according to RFE/RL. Sixty people were arrested, according to Belarusian rights group Vesna.
Lukashenko maintains he won the poll in a landslide — garnering 80% of all ballots — despite widespread claims at home and abroad that the vote was heavily rigged to keep him in power. He has been in office for 26 years.
Public anger has grown over the crackdown in the wake of the protests that have seen more than 7,500 arrests and police violence against demonstrators.
Hundreds have emerged from police custody with bruises and tales of torture at the hands of Lukashenko’s security agents.
Lukashenko has said the protests are encouraged and supported by the West and accused NATO of moving forces near Belarusian borders. The alliance has denied the accusations.
Voice of America – English