MINSK: Belarusian demonstrators have rocked the streets of the capital Minsk on the final day of an ultimatum that was given by the opposition as warning to the President for signing the resignation.
The local media has reported that, various metro stations in the centre of Minsk were closed to put off demonstrators from gathering and mobile internet was restricted by the government. This month the exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya gave President Alexander Lukashenko a deadline of two weeks to resign, stop violence and release political prisoners. She warned him about the consequences in shape of mass protests jamming the country.
The 38-year-old political newcomer fled Belarus after claiming victory in an August presidential election that handed Lukashenko, 66, a sixth term and she has been rallying support from European leaders and calling for new elections.
News agencies have reported that during a visit to Copenhagen on Friday to meet Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod she called for a repeat ballot “as soon as possible,” and in separate statement said a date for the vote must be decided by the end of the year, she also conceded that it was unclear how many Belarusians would answer the call for a general strike.
She added that, “I know a lot of people are afraid to lose their jobs, “We’re not organising the strikes ourselves, it’s people themselves who decide if they’re ready or not.” The Poland-based Nexta Telegram channel is in charge of mobilising post-election protests. They have been encouraging their 2 million followers to gather at 2 pm (1100 GMT) in the centre of Minsk, local media reports. Nexta wrote that, “It is time to return the law, development, fair elections and a full set of civil rights to Belarus,” “The last day of the People’s Ultimatum has gone.”
Previously, after an initial police crackdown on post-vote demonstrations that resulted in thousands of detentions and allegations of torture in prisons, the authorities warned this month they would sanction the use of live ammunition to disperse protesters, news agencies report. Anti-Lukashenko protests are intensifying as demonstrators continued to gather in cities throughout the country despite the threat and government restrictions.
Local media has reported that on Saturday, several hundred women marched through Minsk to protest against Lukashenko, with reports of detentions. On the massive demonstrations, the EU and Western countries have imposed sanctions for vote-rigging and police violence on allies of Lukaskenko.
The President is also blamed for having huge support of Russia in causing the instability. Russian President Vladimir Putin promised Lukashenko a $1.5 billion loan to boost the struggling economy and offered the support of his security services if the instability deteriorated news agencies report. United States, Secretary of State, Pompeo has been in contact with Lukashenko for the release of American political strategist, detained by Belarus. The European Parliament on Thursday awarded the Sakharov Prize for human rights to the movement opposing Lukashenko.
The pro-government protestors also planned to demonstrate in support of government but the plans did’nt worked out. Officials said that, ostensibly over safety concerns and difficulties ensuring transport for Lukashenko supporters coming from the regions.