News Alerts

23 Sep 2020 | 12:03 PM UTC

Belarus: Opposition calls for further protests following President Lukashenko’s inauguration September 23 /update 46

Belarus News Alert

Opposition groups call for protests following President Lukashenko’s inauguration on September 23; avoid protests as a precaution

TIMEFRAME expected from 9/23/2020, 12:00 AM until 10/1/2020, 11:59 PM (Europe/Minsk). COUNTRY/REGION Belarus

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Event

Opposition groups have called for further protests following the inauguration of Alexander Lukashenko's sixth term as the country's president on Wednesday, September 23. Protesters have called for marches in city centers across the country from 14:00 (local time) on Sunday, September 27, as part of a "general offensive" of anti-government unrest. Opposition figure, Pavel Latushko, also urged Belarusians to engage in indefinite civil disobedience following the inauguration.

Protests in Minsk have often occurred at Independence Square and future demonstrations may involve marches to the Square along the city's main throughfares. Previous related demonstrations 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.

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. The promise of military support from Russian President Vladimir Putin has seemingly emboldened Lukashenko and has seen a new wave of arrests during 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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