Belarus: 7th day of protests. Hundreds of thousands of people outside, Lukashenka refuses to leave
Source – Radio Liberty
Belarusians have been protesting the falsification of the results of the recent presidential elections in which incumbent Alexander Lukashenka declared himself the winner.
Demonstrations of both supporters and opponents of Lukashenka are taking place in Minsk.
Lukashenka unwilling to leave
In the afternoon of August 16, Lukashenko gathered his supporters in Minsk near the Government House.
The authorities announced that 50,000 people were present there. But judging by the TV picture, there were no more than 5,000.
At the same time, it was noted that the state TV channels did not broadcast this meeting. Whether this was the result of a strike is not yet known.
Lukashenko spoke for about an hour and was extremely emotional.
The essence of his appeal: Belarus faces an external threat – “black, yellow-faced NATO soldiers.” Protesters say the country has been excited and brought to this point by “foreign puppeteers”. Putin, according to Lukashenko, has promised him support ‘in the event of foreign intervention.’
No other confirmation of this promise or the very fact of the conversation, except for the words of Lukashenko, has been received.
The country has a slightly different outlook on things.
Lukashenko’s opponents began to gather in Minsk at 2 pm. There are more than 200,000 people protesting.
The demands are mostly:
– the resignation of Lukashenko
– the release of all political prisoners
– for those guilty of police violence to be tried in court
– new presidential elections under international monitoring
Mass protests are taking place in all localities of the country. All major enterprises are participating in the nationwide strike.
What the opposition is doing
Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya, who is currently in Lithuania and who announced her victory in the presidential elections, has begun to form a Coordination Council – a structure which will negotiate with the authorities on the terms of the transfer of power. Lukashenko’s resignation is not discussed, but a prerequisite.
The ambassador of Belarus to Slovakia announced he was siding with the protesters.