Hundreds of protesters were reportedly detained in Belarus on Sunday, November 8, during the People Power March in Minsk. The demonstrations were being held to denounce violence against anti-government protesters in the country and to call for the country's authoritarian president to step down. At least 37 people were arrested during the initial demonstration which took place outside of City Hall (Freedom Square), after which protesters then spread out across the city and continued to clash with security forces. In one shopping center, law enforcement officials locked the doors and began spot searches of customers, looking for opposition banners and other materials. Security services also stopped and searched cars. Unconfirmed reports state that around 360 were detained in total, with small protests likely to be still taking place across the city. Internet disruptions were also reported across Minsk, with several metro stations also reportedly closed.
A heightened security presence and associated transportation disruptions are likely in the vicinity of the protests. Further demonstrations should be expected in the near term.
Protests have been taking place throughout Belarus since Lukashenko was declared the winner of the country's August 9 presidential election in a result which opposition groups denounced as fraudulent. The large-scale protests and increased political tensions have seen 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 stun grenades in attempts to disperse crowds.
Those scheduled to travel to Belarus should monitor developments regarding the increased border restrictions and review their travel itineraries accordingly. Travelers in the country should 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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