News Alerts

13 Sep 2020 | 05:11 AM UTC

Belarus: Anti-government protests scheduled to be held on September 13 /update 41

Belarus News Alert

Nationwide anti-government protest scheduled for September 13; disruption likely

TIMEFRAME expected from 9/12/2020, 12:00 AM until 9/15/2020, 11:59 PM (Europe/Minsk). COUNTRY/REGION Belarus

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Event

Protests have been scheduled to take place across Belarus on Sunday, September 13. The anti-government demonstrations are continuing as part of the campaign of protests seeking to force President Alexander Lukashenko out of office following August's disputed presidential election, in addition to demanding the release of political prisoners. Sunday's demonstrations, dubbed the 'March of Heroes', have been organized at major locations throughout the country and are scheduled to begin at around 14:00 (local time).

The largest event is scheduled to take place in Minsk, where protesters will march to the Independence Square from various locations in the city.

Previous related protests have resulted in clashes between protesters and security forces and led to multiple arrests.

The demonstrations are likely to be met with a strong response from security forces, with associated disruptions to transportation and business. Further associated demonstrations in other urban centers are likely in the near term.

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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