Belarus unrest continues: Arrests & scuffles after opposition ‘women’s march’ met with police cordon in Minsk (VIDEOS)
The woman were demanding President Alexander Lukashenko’s resignation, as the fall out continues from last month's disputed election.
The protest began peacefully at Svoboda (Freedom) Square on Saturday afternoon, RT’s Murad Gazdiev reported from the scene, noting a “festive” atmosphere there. The area is the location of the rebuilt historic town hall of Minsk, which is now a museum.
All-women march gathers in Minsk. Atmosphere festive - chanting and songs pic.twitter.com/dEW5N2XRDj— Murad Gazdiev (@MuradGazdiev) September 12, 2020
Footage showed several hundred demonstrators gathering to chant slogans and make noise with pots and bottles. Police trucks soon arrived, and men wearing khaki uniforms without insignias demanded that the crowd disperse. The women refused to obey and, shortly afterwards, the arrests began.
The protesters locked arms to form “human chains” and chanted “shame” at the police. Some scuffled with the troops and tried to remove balaclavas from their heads. Photos and videos from the scene showed the officers grabbing some of the women by the hair and bundling them into prison vans.
Authorities now detaining everyone. People trying to escape through restaurants and side buildings. 10 minutes from the first warning to disperse pic.twitter.com/foIhnSF90D— Murad Gazdiev (@MuradGazdiev) September 12, 2020
When the first van carrying detainees attempted to leave the square, protesters blocked it, and it took several minutes to clear the way. Police confirmed that arrests were made, saying the exact number would be announced later.
After the gathering in the square was broken up, the march continued in other parts of the city, Gazdiev reported. They eventually formed a large column of several thousand people, which marched through central Minsk before dispersing peacefully.
Clever girls... protesters organized multiple starting points for different groups to avoid being detained all at once.Now marching on an unpredictable route, picking different twists and turns as they go to make it difficult for police to corner them pic.twitter.com/dVJ1u19eJ0— Murad Gazdiev (@MuradGazdiev) September 12, 2020
Belarus has been gripped by protests since the contested election of August 9, in which long-serving president Lukashenko claimed a landslide win with 80 percent of the vote. Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who is now in Lithuania, insists she gained more votes and that the count was rigged.
A little time lapse from the middle of the march. Thousands and thousands.All very civilized and polite so far - demonstrators even chanting thanks to police who hold up traffic for them to pass. pic.twitter.com/LFE3enWyL1— Murad Gazdiev (@MuradGazdiev) September 12, 2020
Tikhanovskaya’s call for new “free and fair” elections has been backed by thousands of Belarusians, who have been taking to the streets for weeks. The police have responded with mass arrests, detaining 6,700 people in the first few days alone. They have been accused of using excessive force and of mistreating the detained protesters.
Three demonstrators have died, and hundreds of people have been injured in the violence, including police officers. Lukashenko said he would not bow down to the opposition’s demands and has blamed outside meddlers from countries, such as Poland and Lithuania, for inciting the protests.Also on rt.com Lukashenko has no intention of leaving office, says eventual change of power in Belarus won’t come from street protests
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