KYIV, Ukraine — Greater than 100,000 demonstrators calling for the authoritarian president of Belarus to resign marched by way of the capital of Minsk on Sunday because the each day protests which have gripped the nation entered their sixth week.
Many within the crowd, which the human rights group Viasna estimated as numbering greater than 150,000, carried placards vital of Russia, reflecting issues about President Alexander Lukashenko’s deliberate assembly on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It will be their first face-to-face contact for the reason that unrest broke out in Belarus after the Aug. 9 presidential election that officers say gave Lukashenko a sixth time period with 80% assist. Protesters and a few ballot employees say the outcomes had been rigged.
Putin has mentioned he stands able to ship Russian police into Belarus if the protests flip violent, stoking fears that Moscow may use the political dissent as an excuse to annex its neighbor prefer it did in Crimea in 2014. The international locations have a union settlement envisaging shut political, financial and navy ties, though Lukashenko has repeatedly expressed issues that Putin needs Russia to soak up Belarus completely.
Some observers imagine Lukashenko goes into the assembly in a weak place, and that Putin could capitalize on this to attempt to ease him out of energy.
“Lukashenko has not been in a position to present Putin that he’s in charge of the state of affairs and has put out the flame of protest, and this will push the Kremlin to hunt another state of affairs and candidate,” impartial political analyst Valery Karbalevich advised The Related Press.
Lukashenko has dominated the Japanese European nation of 9.5 million individuals with an iron fist since 1994, harshly repressing the opposition and the media. However the protesters’ willpower seems robust this time, regardless of each day detentions and experiences of police beatings and abuse.
The Inside Ministry mentioned greater than 400 individuals had been detained Sunday in Minsk. The ministry additionally reported that demonstrations happened in 16 different cities, together with Brest, the place police used water cannon in opposition to a crowd of a number of thousand.
“The supply of energy in Belarus is the individuals, not Lukashenko and the Kremlin,” learn placards carried by some marchers in Minsk. “Inform me who your mates are and I’ll say who you’re,” learn one other that bore photographs of Lukashenko and Putin.
Police on Sunday arrange rows of barbed wire and prisoner transport automobiles and deployed 1000’s of servicemen to dam off the town middle from demonstrators, however protesters got here collectively exterior the middle and marched towards the presidential residence on the town’s outskirts.
Lukashenko, a former collective farm director, has rejected any concessions or mediation makes an attempt and has repeatedly accused Belarus’ western neighbors of working to overthrow his authorities. In a single present of aggressive defiance, he was seen striding with an computerized rifle throughout the grounds of his presidential residence.
Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.