- Part of the protesters were so daring and headed to the Independence Palace, the President’s official residence
- Belarusian authorities withdrew credentials from 17 foreign journalists
- EU considers election fraudulent. Slams Lukashenko brutal crackdown on protesters and media.
More than 100,000 Belarusians took part in Sunday’s demonstrations in the capital Minsk in opposition to President Alexander Lukashenko’s continued stay in power. Lukashenko has been at the helm of the country’s leadership for 26 years and his recent reelection, on August 9, is the bone of contention as it is deemed as outright fraud by both the nation’s opposition as well as the international community.
According to reports by local journalists, the protests were mostly concentrated in the capital Minsk with several streets of the capital full to the brim with protesters so determined to dethrone the autocratic Lukashenko.
Part of the protesters were so daring and headed to the Independence Palace, the President’s official residence, on Pieramozcau Avenue, to ostensibly give “gifts to Lukashenko “, who celebrated his 66th birthday today.
Today’s demonstrations marked the third consecutive Sunday of the protests dubbed “March for Independence”, in the Belarusian capital and their momentum is apparently rising in spite of Lukashenko’s thuggish approach of trying to silence the opposition.
Since the beginning of the afternoon, when protesters began to arrive at Independence Square, the police, deployed in their hundreds to the scene, detained more than a hundred people.
According to Interior Ministry spokeswoman Olga Shemodanova , 125 people were arrested today for participating in the demonstrations which she described as ”massive unauthorized protests”.
”Gagging” The Media.
On Saturday, Belarusian authorities withdrew credentials from 17 foreign journalists, some of whom were detained for a few hours in a desperate attempt by the Lukashenko administration to gag the media from independently reporting the ongoings therein.
As per an account by the Belarusian Association of Journalists, among those affected are German television correspondents, France- Presse, Associated Press, and Reuters, among others.
The crisis in Belarus was triggered after the August 9 elections, which, according to official results, led President Alexander Lukashenko, in power for 26 years, to a sixth term, with 80% of the vote.
The opposition denounces the election as fraudulent and thousands of Belarusians took to the streets across the country to demand Lukashenko’s removal.
The protests have been harshly suppressed by security forces, with thousands arrested and hundreds injured.
EU To Blacklist Top Belarus Officials
The EU on Friday announced that it would slam up to 20 senior Belarus senior officials with sanctions in protest of the recent Belarus elections which it deems as fraudulent as well as the brutal crackdown on protesters and the media.
The European Union has also stated that it is likely to put President Alexander Lukashenko on the list of the sanctioned officials at some point as announced by the bloc’s foreign ministers on Friday.
“We have general agreement on how the list will be structured and who will be, more or less, on the list,” the Czech Republic Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek told reporters at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Berlin.
Asked whether the Belarusian president will be hit by a travel ban and asset freeze, Petricek said he believes “Lukashenko should be on the list”.
“The question is whether in the first stage, or a later stage if there is no progress,” he said.