Belarus: a second death, the center of Minsk cordoned off

(Minsk) The Belarusian authorities on Wednesday announced the death of a man arrested during a rally against the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko, the second death recorded since the start of this fiercely suppressed protest movement.

Published on 13 August 2020 at 6 a.m. 49 Updated at 19 h 17

Tatiana KALINOVSKAÏA
France Media Agency

The Investigative Committee, a powerful investigative body, reported that a man from 21 years had died in a hospital of Gomel (south) after being arrested on Sunday during an “unauthorized demonstration”. According to the source, which does not specify the exact date of death, his health “suddenly deteriorated” while he was in detention.

Interviewed for Radio Liberty media outlet, the young man’s mother claimed he was not participating in the protest, but was going to his partner’s house.

The clashes previously left one dead in Minsk and the police said they opened fire with live ammunition in Brest (south-west), leaving one injured.

In the hypercentre of the capital, metro stations were closed on Wednesday evening and traffic was prohibited. Numerous police officers were also deployed in large, almost empty arteries.

Near Ouroutche station, northeast of Minsk, demonstrators forming a human chain were dispersed and beaten by police, amid screams, according to an AFP journalist.

Dozens of women, dressed in white, also formed human chains in other places of the capital to denounce the police repression aimed at the protests against the re-election on August 9 of President Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 25 years.

On social networks, videos showed dozens of demonstrators gathered or temporarily barring the streets of Minsk, against the backdrop of vehicle horns.

During the three previous nights of protest, the security forces arrested some 2678 people across the country, without knowing how many are still detained.

In an interview for Radio Liberty, writer Svetlana Alexievich, the only Belarusian to be honored with a Nobel Prize, accused President Lukashenko on Wednesday of dragging the country “into the abyss”, and urged him to leave the power.

Since Sunday evening, the police have been using stun grenades and rubber bullets against the protesters and at least 80 wounded were admitted to hospital. Internet access has also been severely disrupted.

Numerous scenes of beatings of protesters were broadcast in the media, while Alexander Lukashenko called the protesters “unemployed with a criminal past”.

On Wednesday, Belarusian state television published a report showing six suspected young protesters, handcuffed and with swollen faces, saying on camera that they “did not want to revolutionize.”

Mediation plan

Neighboring Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland presented a plan on Wednesday providing for the creation of a “national council” bringing together representatives of the Belarusian government and civil society, under penalty of sanctions from Brussels .

French President , US Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo and German Chancellor also denounced the ongoing crackdown.

The Belarusian Interior Ministry, for its part, estimated that the mobilization of demonstrators was now on the decline.

President Lukashenko’s rival, opponent Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, claimed victory, before leaving Belarus for Lithuania on the night of Monday to Tuesday. A departure under the threat of the authorities, according to his supporters.

According to the official results of the presidential election, Mr. Loukachenko obtained more than 76% of the votes, a fanciful score, say his detractors, who believe on the contrary that M me Tikhanovskaya, credited with % of votes, won.

The latter has not spoken since her video Tuesday announcing her hasty departure for Lithuania. According to her supporters, she suffered threats when she was held for hours by security forces on Monday.

Alexandre Loukachenko, 60 years, has never let any opposition take hold. The previous great wave of protest, in 2010, had also been severely repressed.

Mrs

Tikhanovskaïa, novice in politics aged 32 years, mobilized tens of thousands of people in a few weeks, a political fervor that Belarus had never known.

This stay-at-home mom replaced her husband Sergei, a prominent video blogger, after her arrest in May as he was growing in popularity.

Read original article here.