News Alerts

22 Aug 2020 | 10:33 PM UTC

Belarus: Anti-government protesters gather in Minsk August 22 /update 23

Belarus News Alert

Anti-government protesters gather in Minsk on August 22; avoid all protests

TIMEFRAME expected from 8/22/2020, 12:00 AM until 8/23/2020, 11:59 PM (Europe/Minsk). COUNTRY/REGION Minsk

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Event

Anti-government protesters gathered in Minsk on Saturday, August 22, amid continued demonstrations calling for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko. Thousands of protesters gathered in Independence Square from 19:00 (local time). Smaller-scale events also occurred at the city's Victory Square and Kamarouski market. Activists also called for a protest to occur at Independence Square from 14:00 on Sunday, August 23. Smaller events were reported in the urban centers across Belarus, including Brest, Baranovichi, and Radaškovičy. A pro-government rally was also held in Grodno.

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 that Lukashenko had won 80 percent of the vote in the presidential election held on 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. Tikhanouskaya subsequently went into exile in Lithuania. Lukashenko announced on Monday, August 17, that he was ready to potentially relinquish power following a constitutional referendum; however, this has failed to stem the 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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