Don’t hit me, son. Retired people took to the streets in Belarus to demonstrate

“Rat, pull away,” the crowd chanted, demanding the resignation of Alexander Lukashenko, whose victory in the August presidential election was considered rigged by the opposition. “Grandmothers and grandfathers will go to victory,” said one of the banners, according to the AP agency.

Protesters carried white-red-white flags and umbrellas in these colors, which became a symbol of protests. Along the way, a crowd of retirees stumbled upon police cordons and split into smaller groups that headed in different directions. Footage of social media and local websites showed that some groups were surrounded by police officers to prevent them from continuing the protest. “Don’t hit me, son,” demanded an inscription on the banner of one of the elderly protesters.

Belarus has been facing a serious domestic political crisis since the August 9 presidential elections. After the election, the authorities again declared Lukashenko, 66, who won more than 80 percent of the vote. The European Union, like the Belarusian opposition, has refused to recognize the result and has imposed sanctions on Lukashenko and his colleagues responsible for falsifying elections and human rights abuses in the crackdown on protests. They erupted almost immediately after the vote and have been going on for more than 100 days.

Protest of Belarusian pensioners in Minsk

Photo: Uncredited, ČTK / AP

As many as 200,000 people came to Sunday’s demonstrations, but participation has declined in recent weeks as the regime rejects any concessions. Police officers have detained more than 19,000 people since the protests began. Thousands of protesters were beaten and several people died in connection with protests and police crackdowns.

Last Friday, Lukashenko said he would no longer hold the presidency once the new basic law was passed. However, his opponents do not trust him, suspect him of stretching tactics and demand his resignation before the constitutional reform. Opposition leaders also point out that Lukashenko has not yet proposed any specific reforms and that no timetable for change is clear. Thousands of people demonstrated against Lukashenko again on Sunday, with more than four hundred being detained by law enforcement.

Demonstration in Minsk on November 29

Photo: Uncredited, ČTK / AP

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