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10 Aug, 2020 18:00

Police shoot grenades and tear-gas at protesters against presidential election results in Belarus

Police shoot grenades and tear-gas at protesters against presidential election results in Belarus

Demonstrators in Minsk and other cities in Belarus continuing to protest against the reelection of President Alexander Lukashenko have been met with tear gas and flash-bang grenades, as police seek to disperse and arrest them.

On Monday evening, protesters gathered in small groups around the Victory Square, the epicenter of last night’s rallies, which is surrounded by various public buildings. A strong police presence was documented in the area. More than a hundred opposition supporters assembled at a nearby hotel and police were arresting some of them, local media reported. 

Elsewhere in Minsk, crowds blocked the streets, sometimes aided by cars and trucks.

Riot police have used flash-bangs and tear gas to disperse demonstrators, according to reports from local outlets and social media. By local reports, some 30 people have been detained in the first hour of the protests. 

Demonstrators have also blocked traffic on Kalvaryjskaya street, a major thoroughfare in western Minsk, near the intersection with the First Ring road. There were reports of "shots" and “explosions” as police moved to disperse them. 

Shaky videos from the street show what appear to be flash-bangs and smoke grenades being launched and going off.

In one video making the rounds, riot-geared police are seen violently dispersing a crowd of protesters in a residential area of Minsk, and dragging one of them away. 

Drone images taken around 9:30 pm local time showed a large crowd of demonstrators around the Pushkinskaya Metro station, in western Minsk.

Shortly thereafter, residents reported the sound of explosions, as police used flash-bangs in an attempt to disperse the crowd. Photos from the street showed a bus on fire. The driver was reportedly injured. 

The Minsk Metro had closed six downtown stations at 6:25pm local time, “to ensure the security of passengers.” A Ruptly agency stringer said the situation in downtown Minsk was getting “dangerous.” 

RT Russian correspondent Kostya Pridybaylo was detained by the police after taking a photo of them gathering at the Palace of Sports in Minsk, but was released shortly after being transported to a different part of town.  

“We were treated, one might say, gently,” he said. 

Another Russian journalist arrested on Sunday, Semyon Pegov, was released on Monday evening. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was personally involved in efforts to secure his release, as well as several other Russian journalists detained during Sunday’s unrest, according to MFA spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. 

Arrests were also made in the northeastern city of Vitebsk, where a protest melted away under a heavy rainstorm. In the western city of Brest, riot police patrols were in evidence at the intersection where protesters clashed with authorities on Sunday, while major streets and cafes remained closed. Police used flash-bangs and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators.

Protests erupted on Sunday evening after President Alexander Lukashenko announced he had been reelected with almost 80 percent of the vote, while opposition candidates accused him of election fraud. 

Also on rt.com 3,000 detained, dozens of protestors & police injured in clashes after Belarus election

Over 3,000 people were detained in the initial clashes. On Monday, the Investigative Committee of Belarus said that more than 80 were arrested, “most of them young and in a state of drug or alcohol intoxication.” Some of them face charges of rioting, and punishments of up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

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