Belarus: protests continue


Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Minsk at the weekend to continue to protest against Alexander Lukashenko, the longstanding president who claimed victory in recent elections with 80% of the vote. Meanwhile, over 50,000 people in Lithuania formed a human chain to the Belarussian border in solidarity.

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Defiant Belarus protestors demand Lukashenko step down (euobserver, link):

"Tens of thousands of protesters in Belarus took to the streets on Sunday (23 August) in Minsk demanding longtime president Alexander Lukashenko to step down and defying warnings from the military.

It was the biggest demonstration since a disputed election on 9 August, as protestors chanted for him to leave power and gathered near the president's residence, before dispersing peacefully.

Lukashenko denounced the demonstrators as "rats" and was seen in state media wearing body armour and holding a rifle as he landed at his palace.

Unofficial estimates put the number of protestors at round 200,000 while Belarus state media, now run with the help of Russian propaganda advisors after mass resignation of local staff in protest against Lukashenko, put the crowd at 20,000."

And: Lithuanians form human chain to back democracy in Belarus (AP, link):

"More than 50,000 Lithuanians joined hands Sunday in a human chain stretching 32 kilometers (20 miles) from the capital of Vilinus to the Belarus border to express solidarity with their neighbor’s dramatic struggle for democracy.

The massive event, dubbed “the Freedom Way” resembled another historic event on August 23, 1989, when over a million people in the nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania formed the Baltic Way, a human chain stretching from Vilnius to Tallinn, to demand an end to the Soviet occupation.

The message Sunday was similar: The people of Belarus deserve elections that are free, fair and democratic."

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