New Sunday of demonstrations despite the police

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New Sunday of demonstrations despite the police







© KEYSTONE/AP


The Belarusian opposition is once again in the streets for a fifth Sunday of mobilization against President Alexander Lukashenko who, far from retreating in the face of this unprecedented protest movement, is toughening its tone while seeking the approval of Moscow.

Despite fatigue and weariness in the face of a head of state who excludes any dialogue, opponents of Belarusian power still hope to be tens of thousands in the streets of Minsk to denounce the presidential election of August 9, which they consider fraudulent , and the brutal repression of the demonstrations that followed.

The forces of order were again deployed en masse, with the presence of water cannons and armored vehicles in the streets. Metro stations were closed with barriers and barbed wire, which did not prevent the first groups of protesters from making their way to the center of the capital.

Alexander Lukashenko, who denounces a Western plot, is increasingly seeking the support of Moscow, which seems ready to provide it, as evidenced by the visit this week to Minsk by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Michoustine.

Repression

This week was marked by the authorities’ harsh response to the parades of students: since the start of the school year on September 1, they have gone on strike and carried out several actions to denounce the power of Alexander Lukashenko, at the head of the country for 26 years.

Several dozen of them were arrested, a repressive response which also affected Belarusian journalists, of whom twenty were arrested.

About 4,000 people marched through the streets of Minsk again on Saturday and 91 were arrested, according to the Belarusian interior ministry.

“Remember that we are strong as long as we are united,” said opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a refugee in Lithuania, in a short video message.

It is at his call that since the election, Belarusians have been meeting every Sunday in Minsk to express their opposition to Alexander Lukashenko: these historic demonstrations have brought together up to more than 100,000 people, a record in the history of country.

On Friday, she called on the international community for sanctions against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko and for the dispatch of a UN mission to “document” human rights violations, the repression of demonstrations having made – beyond many cases of torture and ill-treatment reported – three dead and dozens injured.

Russian support

Appearing regularly with a Kalashnikov in his hand, the 66-year-old president continues to denounce the demonstrations of those he has called “rats”, while calling on Russia to the rescue.

Moscow, which has denounced Western interference since the start of the crisis, stepped up its support with the visit to Minsk on Thursday of Mikhail Michoustine, who did not make a big statement but whose trip was the first of this level since start of the crisis.

Vladimir Putin has already promised to send Russian forces to Belarus if the dispute turns violent, and Alexander Lukashenko seems ready to do anything to please his Russian neighbor, of whom he has for years been a reliable but turbulent ally, alternating between periods of rapprochement and those in which he denounces Russian expansionism.

During his meeting with Mr. Michoustine, he affirmed that his services had intercepted a communication between Berlin and Warsaw proving that the poisoning of the Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny, hospitalized in Berlin, was a Western “falsification” organized in order to dissuade Moscow to intervene in Belarus.

Hilarious internet users

Belarusian television broadcast a recording of less than a minute on Friday evening, in English but dubbed in Russian: a certain Mike, presented as Polish, talks to a German named Nick who says that “everything is going according to plan, documents on Navalny are ready “.

“We must prevent Putin from sticking his nose into Belarusian affairs,” adds Mike. This recording has often been greeted with hilarity by Belarusian and Russian netizens, unconvinced by the content of the dialogue while even Moscow remained silent on these “revelations”.

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