Thousands of people took to the streets of Minsk on Sunday, as mass anti-government protests continued across the country. Sporadic scuffles erupted between demonstrators and police, dozens were reportedly detained.
Belarus’ capital endured a new round of weekly protests against the government of President Alexander Lukashenko. This Sunday, the procession was dubbed ‘The Partisan March’ by its organizers.A large group of protesters, consisting of tens of thousands, marched through the city’s center. It repeatedly ran into cordons erected by riot police and changed its course several times during the march.
Several scuffles between protesters and police were reported. Arguably the most major incident occurred outside ‘Belarus’ shopping mall, where a group of protesters pelted officers’ vehicles with stones, police told RIA Novosti. Law enforcement dispersed the group, firing warning rubber bullet shots into the air.
Mobile internet access was reportedly disrupted by the authorities across the capital for some four hours during the protest. Moreover, a handful of subway stations were locked down. Internet access, as well as commuter networks returned fully online as the march ended.
Belarus has endured over two months of mass protests following the August 9 presidential elections. According to official figures, Belarus’ long-term leader Lukashenko secured a solid victory, receiving more than 80 percent of the ballot. The result, however, has been challenged by the country’s opposition which accused the authorities of gross falsifications.
Lukashenko’s main opponent on the day, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who is now exiled in the EU, claimed that she actually received the majority of votes despite officially getting only some 10 percent. Since then, she has met a number of Western leaders and was even recognized as the ‘legitimate’ president by Lithuania.
The first days of mass protests were marred with violence and a heavy-handed police response, with thousands arrested. Since then, however, the weekly protests have become relatively peaceful while the number of demonstrators have gradually dwindled.
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