Left Menu
Development News Edition

Belarus opposition prepares nationwide strike after police crackdown on protests

Exiled opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on Sunday called on Belarusians to begin a nationwide strike after police forces loyal to veteran President Alexander Lukashenko fired stun grenades to disperse mass protests. Police used stun grenades against protesters they headed towards Independence Palace in the capital. People carrying the red-and-white flags of the Belarusian opposition movement scattered as loud bangs and flashes lit up the city's streets after nightfall, videos showed.

Reuters | Minsk | Updated: 26-10-2020 01:16 IST | Created: 26-10-2020 01:02 IST
Belarus opposition prepares nationwide strike after police crackdown on protests
Representative image Image Credit: Flickr

Exiled opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on Sunday called on Belarusians to begin a nationwide strike after police forces loyal to veteran President Alexander Lukashenko fired stun grenades to disperse mass protests. Tsikhanouskaya had previously set a "People's Ultimatum" for Lukashenko to resign by Sunday night, promising to call the strike if he did not.

Lukashenko, who has ruled for more than a quarter of a century, has signalled he would ignore the ultimatum. "The regime once again showed Belarusians that force is the only thing it is capable of," Tsikhanouskaya wrote in a statement. "That's why tomorrow, Oct. 26, a national strike will begin."

It was not immediately clear how many Belarusians would answer her call. But in a show of opposition strength, tens of thousands marched through Minsk and other cities on the 11th straight weekend of mass protests since a disputed election. Police used stun grenades against protesters they headed towards Independence Palace in the capital.

People carrying the red-and-white flags of the Belarusian opposition movement scattered as loud bangs and flashes lit up the city's streets after nightfall, videos showed. Explosions and white smoke filled residential areas as people hid behind vehicles and ran from police, the videos, shared online by news organisations, showed.

Law enforcement confirmed that riot control weapons had been used and detentions had taken place, the Russian news agency RIA reported. Human rights group Vesna-96 said 216 people had been detained so far on Sunday.

RIOT POLICE An interior ministry spokeswoman said it was too early to say how many people had been injured or detained. "We will only know by the morning if there are any injured people," Olga Chemodanova was cited by RIA as saying.

Earlier on Sunday, crowds streamed through the capital shouting "strike", waving flags and beating drums. Twelve metro stations were closed, helmeted riot police patrolled the streets and mobile internet services were disrupted in Minsk. Two journalists were detained ahead of the protest, a local journalists' association said.

Tens of people were detained and security forces used tear gas in the western town of Lida, RIA quoted the regional branch of the interior ministry as saying. Lukashenko has shown little inclination to quit, buoyed by loans and the offer of military support from traditional ally Russia.

The president's main opponents have been jailed or fled into exile following the Aug. 9 election, which Lukashenko's opponents accuse him of rigging to win a sixth straight term. He denies electoral fraud. Tsikhanouskaya, his main electoral challenger, led the calls for the strike if Lukashenko refused to release all political prisoners and resign to make way for a new election.

The United States, the European Union, Britain, and Canada have imposed sanctions against a string of senior officials in Belarus accused of fraud and human rights abuses in the wake of the presidential election. Lukashenko has accused Western countries of meddling in the internal affairs of Belarus and trying to instigate a violent uprising against him.

In a call with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday, he said Belarus and Russia were ready to respond jointly to external threats, Belarusian state television reported.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Turbulence surrounding tobacco control in Ghana

... ...

Refugee compassion and response: Ideas to mitigate disasters now and in their future

Their homeland becomes a forbidden territory for them and more likely than not, their journey to foreign soil is no less traumatizing, not to say deadly. It is crucial to help refugees live a life of dignity and purpose....

Inadequate water infrastructure causes a tidal wave of coronavirus in rural Alaska

... ...

Videos

Latest News

Britain should 'really negotiate' to find Brexit deal, France says

Britain should clarify its positions and really negotiate to find a Brexit deal on its future relationship with the European Union, a French presidency official said on Monday, as both sides warned each other that time was running out.The p...

COVID SCIENCE-Strong immune response found in asymptomatic patients; virus crosses throat membrane into brain

The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.Immune system responds strongly in asymptomatic COVID-19 ...

Saudi Arabia agrees to allow Israeli commercial planes to cross its airspace -senior Trump official

Saudi Arabia agreed on Monday to let Israeli commercial planes cross its airspace en route to the United Arab Emirates after talks between Saudi officials and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, a senior Trump administration official ...

Soccer-Inter full back Hakimi told to improve his defending

Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte offered a typically blunt assessment of Achraf Hakimis progress at the club on Monday, saying the Moroccan full back needs to improve his defending and get used to the pressure. The 22-year-old, who was signe...

Give Feedback