- Lukashenko ignored the opposition's earlier ultimatum deadline, thus paving the way for a looming national general strike.
- Hours just before the ultimatum, issued by Tikhanovskaïa expired, the state openly showed that it wasn’t keen on talks.
- The Belarusian opposition has demanded Lukashenko’s departure since the disputed presidential elections on 9 August.
Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa on Sunday called upon Belarusians to begin a nationwide strike starting on Monday. On Sunday, a new demonstration against President Alexander Lukashenko brought together more than 100,000 people in the capital, Minsk.
Lukashenko ignored the opposition’s earlier ultimatum deadline, thus paving the way for a looming national general strike.
“Today the regime has once again shown Belarusians that violence is the only thing it is capable of,” Ms. Tikhanovskaya announced via her Telegram social media account. “Therefore tomorrow, October 26, a national strike will begin,” she added.
The Belarusian opposition is demanding that Lukashenko, in power since 1994, must resign from office, since it considers the August 9 presidential elections to have been fraudulent.
The protest movement has been under constant pressure from the authorities, which has resulted in the detention of its main representatives, while many others have since fled to exile abroad.
Hours just before the ultimatum, issued by Tikhanovskaïa expired, the state openly showed that it wasn’t keen on talks. Security forces began rounding up demonstrators at dusk.
Flash grenades exploded. There were many injured, and the number of arrests skyrocketed. The Belarusian Ministry of the Interior is vowing to use all possible means against the violent demonstrators.
Tens of Thousands Defy the Police Force
For hours, well over 100,000 people had marched peacefully through the capital. This was in spite of the massive contingent of police and army, which, among other things, had brought water cannons and armored personnel carriers into position.
“There are even more people than on the past weekends,” one of the demonstrators declared proudly. “People don’t give up. Everyone knows our demands. Whoever calls himself president has to go, he has to release the political prisoners. There must be new elections – otherwise, there is a threat of a general strike.”
Almost 160 people were arrested earlier today, according to the non-governmental organization (NGO) Viasna Human Rights Centre.
The figurehead of the Belarusian opposition, Tikhanovskaya, who is exiled in Lithuania, gave an ultimatum to President Lukashenko on October 13 to resign or be subjected to a nationwide strike in opposition of his government and governance.
“If our demands are not met by October 25th, then the whole country will come out peacefully on to the streets with a people’s ultimatum,” the opposition chief warned at the time.
The Belarusian opposition has demanded Lukashenko’s departure since the disputed presidential elections on 9 August, which gave the Belarusian leader, in power for 26 years, a sixth term.
The opposition considers the election fraudulent, and since then, hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have been taking to the streets in protest demonstrations. On several occasions, these protests and demonstrations have been marked by strong and violent repression by the security forces of Belarus.