News Alerts

31 Aug 2020 | 11:34 PM UTC

Belarus: Opposition groups call for mass strike September 1 /update 33

Belarus News Alert

Opposition groups call for mass strike on September 1; avoid all protests

TIMEFRAME expected from 8/31/2020, 12:00 AM until 9/3/2020, 11:59 PM (Europe/Minsk). COUNTRY/REGION Belarus

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Event

Opposition groups have called for a mass strike to occur on Tuesday, September 1, amid continued protests calling for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko. Groups have called for employees to remain at home or to organize rallies at their place of work. Students have also been asked to avoid going to classes. Organizers also called on those taking part in the strike to set up roadblocks and gatherings in urban centers across the country. The proposed strikes come after police arrested over 100 people during a demonstration in Minsk on Sunday, August 30.

Further unrest is expected across Belarus in the coming days 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 Svetlana 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 cannons, batons, and concussion grenades in attempts to disperse crowds. Tikhanouskaya subsequently went into exile in Lithuania. Lukashenko announced on August 17 that he was ready to potentially relinquish power following a constitutional referendum; however, this has failed to stem the unrest. The recent promise of military support from Russian President Vladimir Putin has seemingly emboldened Lukashenko, which may lead to a new wave of harsh crackdowns on opposition demonstrations in Minsk and other urban centers.

Advice

Those in Belarus, particularly in Minsk, 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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