Thousands of people gathered in the streets of Grodno, Slonim, Vawkavysk, and other urban centers on Saturday, August 1, to show their support for opposition presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. The country's presidential campaign has become contentious following the arrest of hundreds of people, due to government crackdowns on demonstrations and rallies supporting opposition candidates. According to local media sources, Tikhanovskaya's recent campaign events have drawn large crowds, with the rallies on Saturday being reported as peaceful.
Further protests and rallies are likely in the run-up to the Belarusian presidential election on Sunday, August 9. Associated disruptions to transportation and business are to be expected around demonstration sites.
Police have detained several hundred anti-government demonstrators over the past few weeks in efforts to quell anti-government sentiment prior to the election. The majority of Lukashenko's political rivals are either in detention or under investigation. The barring of the two main rivals - Valery Tsepkalo and Viktor Babariko - makes Lukashenko's chances of remaining in power all the more likely; he has been in power for 26 years.
Individuals in Belarus are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all large public gatherings as a precaution, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments, and refrain from discussing political topics in public or on social media.
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