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Greater than 100,000 protesters flooded the streets of the capital Minsk on Sunday in ongoing protests calling for Belarus’ authoritarian president to resign.
Sunday’s protests come on the eve of President Alexander Lukashenko’s deliberate assembly on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi. Will probably be the primary time the 2 leaders will meet face-to-face since unrest erupted in Belarus following the Aug. 9 election. Authorities officers stated Lukashenko received a sixth time period with 80% of the vote, however exterior observers together with the European Union and U.S. State Division say the outcomes have been rigged.
The extended turmoil places Lukashenko right into a weak place going into the assembly with Putin. Lukashenko has expressed concern that Putin might use the political unrest as a purpose to annex Belarus prefer it did with Crimea in 2014.
Protesters in Minsk took to the streets in massive numbers Sunday for the fifth weekend in a row, defying riot police and masked safety forces who roughly detained dozens of protesters and carted them off in vans. Demonstrations additionally occurred in 16 different cities throughout the nation.
The Inside Ministry informed The Related Press greater than 400 individuals have been detained Sunday in Minsk. Greater than 7,000 individuals have been arrested for the reason that election sparked protests in opposition to Lukashenko’s 26-year rule. Lukashenko’s safety forces have additionally sought to quell unrest by detaining or exiling members of an opposition group known as the Coordination Council.
Regardless of the police crackdown, the opposition appears unwilling to again down. Police on Sunday blocked off the town middle with barbed wire fences and prisoner transport automobiles, so the protesters marched a special manner. They headed towards Lukashenko’s residence on the town’s outskirts.
Indicators held by protesters on Sunday mirrored related fears among the many opposition that Russia might take up Belarus.
“The supply of energy in Belarus is the individuals, not Lukashenko and the Kremlin,” learn indicators held by protesters in Minsk, the AP reported. The slogan for Sunday’s protest was “we cannot let him promote the nation.”
Whereas Lukashenko is anticipated to hunt safety ensures in his assembly with Putin, he says he is not going to give away the nation’s sovereignty. Lukashenko has additionally accused Western powers of instigating the revolt to be able to overthrow his authorities.
Political consultants warn that Putin’s backing of Lukashenko might flip Belarusians in opposition to Russia. Opposition leaders have stated their motion just isn’t explicitly pro-Russian or anti-Russian, however pro-democratic.
As Nigel Gould-Davies, the U.Ok.’s former ambassador to Belarus, informed The Guardian, there is a danger that “Russia will flip essentially the most pleasant neighbor they’ve right into a inhabitants that sees them as an adjunct to Lukashenko and his authoritarianism.”
Charles Maynes contributed reporting.