News Alerts

18 Oct 2020 | 10:24 PM UTC

Belarus: Dozens detained in latest nationwide anti-government demonstrations October 18 /update 59

Belarus News Alert

Dozens detained in latest nationwide anti-government demonstrations on October 18; further demonstrations likely in the near term

TIMEFRAME expected from 10/18/2020, 12:00 AM until 10/20/2020, 11:59 PM (Europe/Minsk). COUNTRY/REGION Belarus

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Event

Dozens of arrests were made as thousands of anti-government protesters gathered nationwide on Sunday, October 18, amid continued demands for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko. Reports vary on the number of arrests made, with some sources suggesting the figure was in the hundreds. Most arrests were made in the capital Minsk; however, protests were reported in the cities of Hrodna, Smarhon, and Vitsebsk, among elsewhere. Security forces deployed armored vehicles and blocked a number of roads within the capital before proceeding to arrest participants. Reports suggest that mobile data networks have also been disrupted within the city.

Further demonstrations are expected across Belarus in the coming days. Protesters may be met with a strong response by security forces, with associated disruptions to transportation and business likely.

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. 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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