Despite militia threats to use ammunition against protesters, thousands took to the streets of Minsk on Sunday to protest the regime of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Security forces have already detained more than 100 people in the capital, a spokeswoman for the Belarusian Interior Minister told AFP.
The leader of the Belarusian opposition, Svetlana Tihanovska, who fled to Lithuania after the elections, called on her compatriots not to deviate from their demands and to be peaceful but insistent before the protests.
“We will only stop when all political prisoners have been released, when law enforcement officers have started defending the people and the rule of law and fair elections are returning to Belarus,” Tihanovska said.
Tikhanovsky has called on Lukashenko to step down by October 25 or to reckon with large-scale strikes that will paralyze the entire country.
She also demanded that Lukashenko release all political prisoners and stop “state terror” against peaceful protesters.
Protests against the rigging of the presidential election have been going on in Belarus for more than two months. More than 13,000 people have been detained and several hundred injured during the protests.
According to the official results of the presidential election in Belarus on August 9, the current head of state Lukashenko won 80.1% of the vote, and the opposition candidate Tikhanovska – 10.1%, but the opposition believes that the election results are fake and Tikhanovsky won the election convincingly.
The EU and other Western countries have also refused to recognize the election results.
Belarusian militias threatened to use ammunition against protesters on Monday, claiming that demonstrations against Lukashenko were becoming more radical.
Today, the streets of Minsk show a strong presence of security forces and military equipment.
Telephone communications in the capital are disrupted.
The local telecommunications operator MTS Belarus reported that it had received an order to restrict telephone communications in the interests of national security.
The human rights center “Vyasna” reported that the detention of protesters had started not only in Minsk, but also elsewhere in Belarus.
Depending on previous protests, today the masses are not concentrated in the center of Minsk, but on Partisan Avenue in the south-east of Minsk, where many factories are located and traffic is heavy.
Telegram’s NEXTA Live channel, which coordinates the protesters, has called on Belarusians to show solidarity with the workers during the protests.