Belarus: Police detain hundreds as opposition reaches out to Biden

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Nov 08, 2020, 10:27 PM(IST)

File photo Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Joe Biden has previously voiced support for the Belarusian opposition and promised he would expand sanctions against the regime. 
Lukashenko on Saturday called the US vote a "mockery of democracy" and said he doesn't expect relations with Washington to change no matter the election outcome

More than 500 people were detained by the police in Belarus as protests against country's president Alexander Lukashenko continued. The opposition reached out to US President-Elect Joe Biden. The protests in Belarus have been going on for more than three months. Tens of thousands have taken to the streets of Belarus in this period. The people are protesting result of August 9 election in which Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory.

His opponents are demanding he hand power to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a political novice who ran for president against Lukashenko
Several thousand protesters, many carrying the red-and-white opposition flag, joined a march in central Minsk on Sunday.

On Saturday, Tikhanovskaya congratulated Joe Biden and said she hoped to meet the newly elected US president.

"This was a real race of ideas, programmes and teams, unlike Belarus, where votes at elections were simply stolen, in the United States the vote of every voter was taken into account," she said.

She said she believed Biden will "soon meet with the fairly elected president of the new, free Belarus".

Democrat Biden has previously voiced support for the Belarusian opposition and promised he would expand sanctions against the regime. 
Lukashenko on Saturday called the US vote a "mockery of democracy" and said he doesn't expect relations with Washington to change no matter the election outcome.

Also Read | Belarus's Lukashenko and son put on sanctions list of European Union

On Sunday, police vans and water cannons had been deployed to the centre of the city with police sporadically detaining protesters in various locations.

Local media reported a heavy police presence, with human rights group Viasna saying that at least 395 people had been detained in the capital Minsk and other cities.

Olympic decathlete Andrei Kravchenko and the 2008 Miss Belarus pageant winner Olga Khizhinkova were among those detained, according to the Tut.by news website.

Pensioner Yelena Vasilyevich told AFP that she was taking part in the Sunday protest with her family and friends.

"I want to finally live in a free and democratic country," said Vasilyevich, 65.

From exile in Lithuania, Tikhanovskaya said protests would continue "until victory" and that the past 90 days had shown authorities they had "lost legitimacy and power".

"The regime doesn't want to give us the right to decide what will happen next to our country," she wrote on her Telegram channel on Sunday.

In October, several state universities expelled students who organised sit-in protests on campus.

"We are citizens who have a conscience and who cannot be silent if lawlessness is happening in the country," law student Tamara Babina, 20, told AFP at Sunday's protest.

EU sanctions

The European Union has slapped sanctions on Lukashenko, 66, and several of his allies, imposing a travel ban and asset freezes, for vote-rigging and police violence.

Earlier protests in Minsk were met with a brutal crackdown with police using stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the gatherings. 
Many of those detained reported brutal treatment including beatings and torture at the hands of security forces.

Authorities have also threatened to use live ammunition on protesters. 

With Moscow-backed Lukashenko refusing to step down and the opposition unable to force his resignation, the political situation appears to have reached an impasse.

Last week, Belarus closed land borders with Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine and Poland, and banned foreigners from entering the country via land border crossings.

Two weeks ago, the opposition announced a nationwide strike but it did not gain momentum and its effects on the country's economy appear to have been limited.

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