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'Until You Kill Me, There Will Be No Other Election'

Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko heckled at tractor plant
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2020 2:33 PM CDT

(Newser) – Alexander Lukashenko might have Vladimir Putin on his side—but he has lost the support of workers at the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant. The embattled president of Belarus was heckled and booed as he spoke to workers at the plant Monday, Sky News reports. Lukashenko, who is facing mass protests and the biggest challenge yet to his 26-year rule, vowed that there would be no rerun of the disputed Aug. 9 election. "We held the election. Until you kill me, there will be no other election," he told workers. He said he was willing to consider a referendum on constitutional reforms, "but not under pressure and not via street protests." Workers at the state-run plant were reportedly told they would lose their jobs if they didn't attend the Lukashenko rally.

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After a harsh crackdown on protests and around 7,000 arrests, the Belarusian people "are outraged by the brutality of their security forces ... so much so that even Mr. Lukashenko's traditional base, including the state factory workers, are deserting him," the BBC notes. Protesters and striking workers across the country are calling for Lukashenko to step down and be replaced by opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled the country days after the election. Official election results said she received just 10% of the vote, but she says the real total was as much as 70%. "We don't want any new constitutions or referendums. We want Lukashenko's resignation," says factory worker Dmitry Averkin, 45. "The faster he steps down, the sooner the country comes back to normal life.” (Read more Belarus stories.)

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