Alertes de sécurité

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24 août 2020 | 02h13 UTC

Belarus: Thousands defy army warning and protest in Minsk August 23 /update 25

Belarus Alerte de sécurité

Thousands defy army warning and peacefully protest in Minsk on August 23; avoid demonstrations as precaution

TIMEFRAME expected from 23/8/2020, 12h00 until 25/8/2020, 11h59 (Europe/Minsk). COUNTRY/REGION Minsk

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Event

Tens of thousands defied an army warning and gathered to protest in Minsk to demand that President Alexander Lukashenko step down on Sunday, August 23. Crowds have marched towards Lukashenko's residence located in the north of the capital, at the Independence Palace. As Lukashenko left the building by helicopter, protesters started to peacefully disperse on Sunday evening and no clashes with the police were reported.

A large security presence was been reported on Sunday ahead of pro-opposition demonstrations in Minsk and at least four metro stations nearby were closed. 

Further associated demonstrations are possible in the area in the near term. Previous rallies have been met with a strong response by security forces and resulted in clashes with protesters and arrests. Associated disruptions to transportation and business 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 Svetalna 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 cannon, batons, and concussion grenades in attempts to disperse crowds. At least two people have been killed and around 6700 people have reportedly been arrested during the unrest, although around 2000 have since been released in a rare sign of concession from the government. Tikhanouskaya subsequently went into exile in Lithuania. Lukashenko announced on Monday, August 17, that he was ready to potentially relinquish power following a constitutional referendum; however, this has failed to stem the unrest.

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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