Photos and videos in Internet forums, for example, show injured protesters sitting in the streets with bandages around their heads. The human rights organization Vjasna spoke about 150 arrests in the afternoon. According to the Belarusian Union of Journalists, about two dozen media representatives were also among those detained.
The protests began after the August 9 presidential election, in which the strongest opposition politicians were not allowed to run and were not overseen by OSCE observers. The Commission has declared Lukashenko their winner, but the opposition, the European Union and the Czechia do not recognize the result because they consider it to be falsified.
On Sunday, therefore, the opposition again called for a “march of pride.” “We will show that we are tirelessly striving for freedom, progress and change,” she said.
Police arrested journalists en masse
Police according to server Tut.by already before the demonstration in the capital, she arrested journalists en masse, whom she took to police offices under the pretext of checking documents. Among those detained were not only a reporter for the Tut.by server itself and people from other independent media, but also a reporter and photographer of the Russian state agency TASS and even photo reporters of the Belarusian state agency Belta. TASS later reported that its correspondents had been detained twice during Sunday.
The media also reported fierce skirmishes and dozens of arrested protesters from around the Heroes’ Memorial. “People stood and did not run away. Eventually, the police started beating them with batons, they intervened really brutally, “wrote the Onliner.by server.
According to Tut., Disguised people with batons and in civilian clothes also intervened against the demonstrators. “Fifty people have been arrested,” Interfax reported, citing eyewitnesses saying some of the protesters opposed it. Police intervened hard and several wounded had to be treated.
Independent media have reported since Sunday morning the passage of columns of armored vehicles through Minsk, as well as the deployment of heavy police units in the center of the metropolis. At the request of the authorities, mobile operators reduced the speed of the mobile Internet and warned of connection outages. TASS recalled that this has been happening every Sunday in recent weeks, when the opposition holds protests.
Sunday protests usually have the largest turnout. Already on Saturday, hundreds of women marched through the Belarusian capital to protest against political repression and demand new elections. Several protesters were detained, the AP reported.
Lukashenko visited some opposition leaders in prison
Lukashenko visited some opposition leaders in prison on Saturday. According to the opposition portal Nexta, he discussed changes to the constitution with them, the DPA agency informed.
Interviews with opposition figures, including Viktar Babaryka, allegedly took place in the investigation detention of the Belarusian KGB secret service and lasted four and a half hours. Babaryk wanted to compete with Lukashenko in the presidential election, but ended up in prison before the pre-election struggle began, writes the DPA.
Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlan Tsichanouska, who voted in place of her imprisoned husband and won the opposition and left Belarus under pressure from the authorities, called Lukashenko’s meeting with imprisoned politicians as a result of demonstrations and called for continued pressure for new elections. “With this meeting, Lukashenko acknowledged the existence of political prisoners, whom he had previously rejected as criminals,” she said.
Former Minister of Culture and Ambassador to France Pavel Latuska, who became a member of the opposition Coordinating Council and was forced to leave Belarus, said the meeting reflected the weakness of the country’s longtime ruler. “Lukashenko was forced to sit at the negotiating table with the people he imprisoned,” he said. He also called for the release of all political prisoners.
Observers see Lukashenko’s visit to prison as part of efforts to quell protests by offering vaguely described reforms, such as his proposal for a new constitution, after which he admits holding new elections but again organized by the regime. “After two months of protests and harsh repression, Lukashenko is trying to alleviate the situation,” said Belarusian political scientist Valery Karbalevich.
“The debate on the new constitution is an attempt by the government to imitate dialogue. This would allow Lukashenko to drown the protests in the talks, reduce tensions and promote his agenda at home and abroad, “he added.