Alertes de sécurité

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02 sept. 2020 | 01h19 UTC

Belarus: Police arrest student demonstrators in Minsk September 1 /update 34

Belarus Alerte de sécurité

Police arrest student demonstrators in Minsk on September 1; further unrest possible

TIMEFRAME expected from 2/9/2020, 12h00 until 3/9/2020, 11h59 (Europe/Minsk). COUNTRY/REGION Minsk

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Event

Police arrested at least 40 student demonstrators in Minsk on Tuesday, September 1, after they gathered to demand the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko. Some 3000 to 5000 protesters marched on the Education Ministry and Independence Square when police attempted to force the crowd to change their route leading to clashes as protesters tried to break through police cordons. Opposition groups had called for a mass strike to occur on Tuesday in the form of rallies at workplaces and students boycotting classes.

Further unrest is expected across Belarus in the coming days as the situation has shown little sign of being resolved. Protests may be met with a strong response by security forces, with associated disruptions to transportation and business probable.

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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