100K Protesters Demand Belarus' Ruler Resign

Demonstrators say Lukashenko didn't fairly win reelection this month
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 23, 2020 12:30 PM CDT
100K Protesters Demand Belarus' Ruler Resign
A young boy catches a balloon during a protest Sunday in Minsk.   (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

More than 100,000 protesters demanding the resignation of Belarus' authoritarian president rallied Sunday in a vast square in the capital, keeping up the massive outburst of dissent that has shaken the country since a disputed presidential election two weeks ago, the AP reports. Sunday's demonstration overflowed Minsk's 17-acre Independence Square. There were no official figures on crowd size, but there appeared to be 150,000 people or more. Dozens of police-prisoner transport vehicles were parked on the fringes, but police made no immediate efforts to break up the gathering. Protesters say the official results of the Aug. 9 election, which gave President Alexander Lukashenko 80% of the vote and a sixth term in office, are fraudulent.

The 65-year-old has already ruled the former Soviet republic of 9.5 million people for 26 years. His main election challenger, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, fled to Lithuania the day after the election. The size and duration of the protests are unprecedented. Lukashenko appears to be flailing about for a strategy to counter them. Lukashenko has consistently repressed opposition, but weariness with his hardline rule, the country's deteriorating economy, and his cavalier dismissal of the coronavirus pandemic appear to have galvanized opponents. "Belarus has changed," said a protester. "Lukashenko has been able to unify everybody, from workers to intelligentsia, in the demand for change."

(More Belarus stories.)

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