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Lukashenka’s crackdown on protesters is increasingly brutal, over 1000 detained this Sunday

Riot police detain protesters on 8 November in Minsk. Pray for Belarus
Lukashenka’s crackdown on protesters is increasingly brutal, over 1000 detained this Sunday

This Sunday, 8 November 2020, Belarusians protesting against rigged presidential elections for the third month in a row attempted to hold their traditional march in Minsk and other cities.

Called the “Power of the People March,” it ended up nothing like the colorful hundred-thousand-strong rallies that became a Sunday tradition in Belarus. It was dispersed by the siloviki of self-proclaimed president Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who have become increasingly brutal as protests show no sign of abating.

Lukashenka, who is widely believed to have stolen the election on 9 August, is pushing forward changes to the Belarusian Constitution, having expelled or jailed his opposition, including Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who the protesters believe is the rightful winner of the election. At least 100 were detained at publication date amid reports of police brutality.


On Lukashenka’s b-day, protests grow bolder while foreign journalists silenced & deported


In a crackdown that observers believed to be one of the most brutal ones since August, Belarusian riot police detained at least 1000 protesters throughout the country, according to the Viasna human rights center, as of 1:00 on 9 November.

The ranks of the protesters have dwindled, thanks to increasing repressions. The previous Sunday “March against terror” became itself a victim of terror. Riot police used tear gas while they brutally dispersed peaceful protesters that marched toward the well-known monument to Soviet-era repression victims outside the capital. Reportedly, criminal charges are reportedly being pressed against the 200+ detainees instead of the previous administrative ones — an outcome that can lead up to a decade in prison.

Also, gone are the days of the vivid Saturday women’s marches. The first one, held on 29 August, demonstrated Lukashenka that women were a force to be reckoned with in the Belarusian protests: beating them up would not make the dictator look too handsome. and thus the women were allowed to roam nearly freely.


Lukashenka’s riot police powerless against 10,000-strong women’s march | Photos


Not anymore: after several Saturdays of detentions, the women’s marches devolved into innocuous “demarches.” This Saturday, the demarche was broken up before you could say Jack Robinson: flower-wielding women, as well as random passersby, were dragged off to paddy wagons before they could even properly start their stroll in central Minsk.

This Sunday’s “Power of the People” march was held in Minsk amid a heavy presence of military equipment and colossal concentration of siloviki, a post-Soviet moniker for law enforcers of various jurisdictions who, however, enforce the regime more than the law. Reportedly, they were brought in from the regions, where — again — no large protest rallies took place.

The protesters in Minsk attempted to gather in the city center, but faced dispersals and detentions by the siloviki. Despite this, the protesters were able to gather in columns of several thousand people and march in the roadway in two locations.

Photos:, Nasha Niva, RFE/RL

Both times, they were dispersed; the streets on which they marched and the nearby residential areas were surrounded by siloviki, who continued to detain people.

Photos:, Nasha Niva, RFE/RL

The siloviki continued their detentions after they cleared the city center of protesters, using rubber bullets and chasing people not only on the streets but in shopping malls, and checking whether their victims have opposition white-red-white flags on them.

Photos:, Nasha Niva, RFE/RL

In a show of solidarity, many Minsk residents opened the doors of their apartments to the besieged protesters, harboring many of them at a time, as a video shared on twitter by Tsikhanouskaya’s advisor Franak Viacorka shows.

The detained civilians were forced to stand for many hours head to the wall inside the police cortyard.

Among those detained today in Minsk are, according to the Pray for Belarus initiative:

  • Andrey Kravchenko, track and field athlete, silver medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics;
  • Ivan Ganin, a winner of the Kickboxing World Cup, a silver medalist of the World Kickboxing Championship, a multi-champion of the Republic of Belarus in kickboxing and Thai boxing;
  • Alexander Zhdanovich, actor, cult Malovanych character from the popular TV show “Kalykhanka” (“Lullaby”);
  • Olga Khizhinkova, Miss Belarus 2008;
  • Roman Latushka, nephew of Pavel Latushka, member of the Coordination Council set up by the opposition to facilitate a transfer of power;
  • Yan Avseyushkin, a journalist for BelaPAN;
  • Svyatoslav Zorky (later released) and Viktor Tolochko, photographers;
  • Yuri Shamshur and Tatyana Ilyasova, correspondents of TASS and MIA Russia Today (both later released).

Detainees are continually being taken away from the police station by ambulances, according to the volunteers’ telegram channel @spiski_okrestina, Pray for Belarus wrote. According to the volunteers, an ambulance took a man away from the Pervomayskiy district police station, and later, a woman, indicating that protesters were severely beaten by the riot police.

Volunteers are bringing food and warm clothes to the detained.

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