Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. Belarus police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck.
Security forces in riot gear used barbed wire to seal off the capital’s central square.
“About 250 people were detained in various districts of the capital,” the home ministry said in a statement. Among those arrested were flags and “offensive” placards.
At the back of Octibarskaya Square in central Minsk was barbed wire with armed law enforcement forces. Freedom Square was also fenced off.
Protesters marched on President Lukashenko’s residence, the Independence Palace.
“Soldiers gathered us in many circles, people were picked up from the crowd and beaten,” an unidentified protester told Reuters news agency.
Lukashenko – who has been in power for 26 years – is facing public outrage after announcing a landslide victory in last month’s presidential election that his opponents say was cracked down on. He denies the allegations.
Al Jazeera’s Step Wessen, reporting by phone from Minsk, says the internet was blocked and security forces were making it extremely difficult for protesters to gather.
However, he said thousands of people had rallied in the center of the capital, albeit at different locations than initially planned.
Wessen’s report said an Al Jazeera cameraman was soon detained and almost pulled into a van, but escaped.
He said a van of masked policemen was speeding around the city and snatching people from the street. “It is very clear that the strategy today is to applaud as we move towards Sunday’s rally. “
On Saturday, at least 5,000 people marched through the city demanding the release of a jailed opposition leader in the latest wave of mass protests following the August 9 presidential vote.
The main opponent of statistics Belarus Either imprisoned or forced out of the country. Lukashenko will visit Russia on Monday for talks with Putin as the two countries begin joint military exercises.
Wessen He said Lukashenko’s meeting with Putin was crucial. “He wants to show that he has this protest under control, and the images of a very large gathering are not something he wants to see today.”
He said the government and the protesters were digging and did not want any compromise.
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“This is a complete obstacle. Lukashenko has repeatedly said that he is not ready to step down. Even the people here are not ready to stop this process because they have started something they call the ‘Awakening of Belarus’. Many years later, Over the years, they’ve gone to the point where they can accept it more. “
Peter Zalmayev of the Eurasia Democracy Initiative said the mass rallies, which take place every Sunday month, are alone in their purpose, removing Lukashenko and his “iron-clad regime.”
“One of the goals of the opposition is to get rid of that person and they are doing it in a spectacular democratic style with a single leader, the leadership is shattered, and with a true popular uprising, which Belarus never chose,” Zalmayev told Al Jazeera.
He said Lukashenko was “hanged” because of his loyalty to the security forces.
“The big stranger is Vladimir Putin who has sent contradictory signals. From what we have seen he is not ready to think of victory by street protests, which would set a very unpleasant precedent for Russia and Putin’s regime.”
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