PHOTO CREDITS: CHANNELSTV.COM
Tens of thousands of Belarusian protesters took to the streets protesting President Alexander Lukashenko’s claim to a landslide victory over the weekend, days after citizens voted on August 9th. The Central Election Commission claimed that Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, won 80% of the votes, and his main competition, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, claimed around 10% of the votes. The results have been condemned, amid allegations of vote-rigging. Ms.Tikhonovsky claimed that in areas where proper vote counting occurred, she won around 60-70 percent of the votes. ~
Protestors marched outside of the capital on Friday in revolt against Lukashenko. This comes after Tikhanovskaya called for more peace rallies, telling citizens, “Don’t stay on the sidelines.” Many people took her advice, as estimated tens of thousands of protestors flooded the streets. Officials say that 6700 protestors had been arrested, and at least one has died as a result of the protests. Of those that are detained, around 2000 have been released, according to a statement released on friday. In addition to giving support to the rallies, Tikhanovskaya urged citizens to sign an online petition urging for a recount of the votes. ~
Amid the protests and claims of torture and brutality in government holding, many law enforcement officials have been stepping down from their posts. A video was posted online by Evgeny Novitski in which his brother, a former special forces officer, puts his uniform into a trash can, saying that he is no longer proud of his job. Another video that was posted by Belarusian television station Nexta shows police officer Ivan Kolos saying that he is refusing to follow “criminal orders.” He urged his fellow officers to cease fire on the protests and join them instead. Many officers did just that, as they dropped their protective gear and were embraced by the protestors, who were chanting “brothers”, in support of the officers joining their movement.
President Lukashenko met with Russian President Vladmamir Putin Sunday, and the two claimed that they are sure that the problems occurring in Belarus will resolve, despite the protests persisting for days. ~
ARTICLE: ABI YARBROUGH