News Alerts

20 Aug 2020 | 05:42 PM UTC

Belarus: Anti-government demonstrators gather in Minsk and other cities August 20 /update 20

Belarus News Alert

Anti-government demonstrators gather in Minsk and other cities nationwide on August 20; avoid all protests

TIMEFRAME expected from 8/20/2020, 12:00 AM until 8/27/2020, 11:59 PM (Europe/Minsk). COUNTRY/REGION Belarus

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Event

Anti-government demonstrators gathered Minsk and other cities on Thursday, August 20, as protests calling for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko continue. Protesters gathered in locations across Minsk, including Victory Square, on Thursday, and activists have called for a gathering at Independence Square from 19:00 (local time) where thousands of people have already gathered. Demonstrators also gathered in other urban centers, including Borovlyany, Glubokoye, Molodechno, Soligorsk, and Vitebsk. Thousands of workers continue to undertake industrial action across the country, with significant gatherings of striking workers in Grodno, Soligorsk, Mazyr, and Vitebsk.

Further unrest is expected across Belarus in the near term as the situation has shown little sign of being resolved. Protests may be met with a strong response by security forces, with associated disruptions to transportation and business probable.

Context 

Election officials announced on Monday, August 10, that Lukashenko had won 80 percent of the vote in the presidential election held on Sunday, August 9, with the main opposition candidate Svetalna Tikhanouskaya gaining 9.9 percent. Lukashenko faced few challenges to his sixth term as president, with his main rivals Valery Tsepkalo and Viktor Babariko being barred from standing. However, the run-up to the election saw increased political tensions and opposition protest activity. Opposition groups have denounced the election results as fraudulent.

Protests have taken place throughout Belarus since the election result was announced, with security forces blocking access to a number of cities as clashes with protesters were reported. Security forces have deployed tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannon, batons, and concussion grenades in attempts to disperse crowds. At least two people have been killed and around 6700 people have reportedly been arrested during the unrest, although around 2000 have since been released in a rare sign of concession from the government. After being detained on Monday night, Tikhanouskaya was forced into exile in Lithuania. Lukashenko announced on Monday, August 17, that he was ready to hold new elections and potentially relinquish power following a constitutional referendum; however, this has failed to prevent further unrest.

Advice

Those in Belarus are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments, and refrain from discussing politically sensitive topics in public or on social media.

 

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