Sat, 31 Oct 2020

Protests continue in Belarus against Alyaksandr Lukashenka who claimed victory in the country's presidential election more than a month ago amid reports of widespread fraud.

Women gathered in downtown Minsk on September 26, many carrying flowers in what was billed as a women's march through the capital, Minsk.

RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports riot police quickly moved in and detained at least 10 women.

Among those held by riot police was 73-year-old Nina Bahinskaya, a frail but resolute figure who has been a regular participant of the anti-Lukashenka protests.

Near a central subwaay station, a group of women chanted 'What have we done to you?' as riot police looked on.

Rallies were reported elsewhere in Belarus, including Hrodna.

The action comes after Lukashenka held a secretive inauguration on September 23 in Minsk amid a police lockdown in the city and Internet blackout.

The EU and United States reacted, saying they would not recognize Lukashenka, who came to power in 1994, as the legitimate leader of Belarus.

Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, now in Lithuania, called for Belarusians to demonstrate on September 27 for the "goal of new, honest elections and, as a result, an official, lawful inauguration."

Tsikhanouskaya, who joined the presidential race at the last moment after her husband's own bid was ended after he was jailed, said she won the August 9 poll with 60 to 70 percent of the vote.

The EU and United States have increased contacts with Tsikhanouskaya, a former English teacher and translator.

Russia slammed the move by the EU and United States not to recognize Lukashenka, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying it was a violation of international law and interference in Belarus's internal affairs.

Russia has backed Lukashenka since the election with a $1.5 billion loan and vows of possible military help, including support from a police brigade.

The two countries are now taking part in military drills in Belarus with plans to hold more on a monthly basis in the near future.

Lukashenka has directed a brutal postelection crackdown in response to protests, including thousands of arrests, beatings and other mistreatment of peaceful protesters, and the expulsions of foreign journalists.

A Minsk court in a closed-door hearing on September 25 rejected an appeal to release opposition leader Maryya Kalesnikava pending her trial.

Kalesnikava, a former

Crisis In Belarus

Read our coverage as Belarusians take to the streets to demand the resignation of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and call for new elections after official results from the August 9 presidential poll gave Lukashenka a landslide victory.

leader of Tsikhanouskaya's campaign team and member of the Coordination Council to facilitate a political transition in Belarus, is facing charges of threatening Belarus's national security.

According to the Minsk court ruling, the 38-year-old Kalesnikava will remain in custody until her planned trial at the beginning of November.

Her lawyer, Lyudmila Kazak, went missing on September 24, with police confirming later that she had been detained.

Kazak's lawyers said on September 25 that she faces administrative charges of participating in an unauthorized rally and resisting a police officer.

Kalesnikava and two of her staff were snatched from the streets of Minsk on September 7 by masked men. The three were driven the next day to the border, where authorities told them to cross into Ukraine.

Security officers reportedly failed to deport Kalesnikava because she ripped her passport into small pieces after they arrived in a no-man's-land between Belarus and Ukraine. Her two associates continued on and are now in Ukraine.

A dozen human rights watchdogs based in Belarus have recognized Kalesnikava and two other associates also being detained as political prisoners and have demanded their immediate release from custody.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

More Fort Lauderdale News

Access More

Sign up for Fort Lauderdale News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!