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Belarus

It's the weekend!

'Security forces in Belarus detained dozens of protesters on Sunday and used force, including water cannon and batons, to break up crowds demanding a new presidential election, TV footage showed.

'Footage published by local news outlets showed police officers wearing black balaclavas dragging protesters into unmarked black vans and beating protesters with their batons at a rally that drew thousands onto the streets of Minsk, the capital.

'One sequence showed a police van unleashing a powerful jet of water from a cannon into crowds, visibly pushing them back.'


 
Looks like things are about to get uglier. I'm pretty sure the Belarusian security forces don't do 'herois constraint'.

'Belarus’ government says police will now be permitted to use firearms against protesters “if need be” as demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko continued Monday.

'The Interior Ministry said in a statement Monday that the rallies “have become organized and extremely radical.”

"In this regard, the Interior Ministry's employees and internal troops will not leave the streets and, if necessary, will use special equipment and military weapons," it said.

'The ministry also announced Monday that more than 700 people were detained in demonstrations a day earlier. It said that of those detained Sunday, 570 of them were still in custody awaiting a court hearing.

'More than 2,000 mostly elderly people took part Monday in a "march of pensioners" against the government in the capital, Minsk. They chanted “go away” and some waved flags symbolizing the opposition.

'Videos from the demonstration showed police responding with flare guns and tear gas.'


 
Looks like things are about to get uglier. I'm pretty sure the Belarusian security forces don't do 'herois constraint'.

'Belarus’ government says police will now be permitted to use firearms against protesters “if need be” as demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko continued Monday.

'The Interior Ministry said in a statement Monday that the rallies “have become organized and extremely radical.”

"In this regard, the Interior Ministry's employees and internal troops will not leave the streets and, if necessary, will use special equipment and military weapons," it said.

'The ministry also announced Monday that more than 700 people were detained in demonstrations a day earlier. It said that of those detained Sunday, 570 of them were still in custody awaiting a court hearing.

'More than 2,000 mostly elderly people took part Monday in a "march of pensioners" against the government in the capital, Minsk. They chanted “go away” and some waved flags symbolizing the opposition.

'Videos from the demonstration showed police responding with flare guns and tear gas.'


When things get that far it is a sign that the government is getting desparate and running out of ideas.
 

Zhopa

War Hero
I think this is a response to the increased violence:


Ultimatum to Lukashenko: three demands (including stepping down and ending police violence) by 25th October or we shut the country down with strikes and demos.

Risky, but otherwise they continue to not convert any of the outrage into political change, as the weather gets colder and fewer people can be out on the streets.
 
In view of what she’s said above, Tsikhanouskaya is on both Belarus’s and Russia’s wanted list. Russia joining in due to a bloc agreement, CSTO?

I’m sure she’s taking adequate precautions with regard to her imbibing of tea and other liquids:

Belarus has put opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on its wanted list for allegedly making calls to overthrow the constitutional order, the interior ministry of close ally Russia said on Friday.

Tsikhanouskaya fled to neighbouring Lithuania shortly after a disputed Aug. 9 election and has since met European political leaders and called for her country’s longtime president Alexander Lukashenko, to leave power.

She later appeared on Russia’s wanted list, something Russia’s Interior Ministry said had happened through a mechanism outlined in a regional bloc that both Russia and Belarus are members of.
 
Published by: RFE/RL, on 18 October 2020.

For 11th Week In A Row, Thousands March In Minsk To Protest Lukashenka.

Thousands of Belarusian citizens took to the streets on October 18 to protest the authoritarian rule of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, despite authorities' threat to open fire on demonstrators.

Amid a heavy police presence, citizens peacefully marched through the center of Minsk, the nation’s capital, carrying the banned red-and-white flag of the opposition, as the nationwide protest movement reached its 11th week.

“Look out the window. Stop watching TV,” the protesters chanted, a reference to state-controlled media downplaying the size and peaceful nature of the rallies.

[Follow link for many more photos . . . ]

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1603054003665.png


 
Published by: RFE/RL, on 18 October 2020.

For 11th Week In A Row, Thousands March In Minsk To Protest Lukashenka.

Thousands of Belarusian citizens took to the streets on October 18 to protest the authoritarian rule of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, despite authorities' threat to open fire on demonstrators.

Amid a heavy police presence, citizens peacefully marched through the center of Minsk, the nation’s capital, carrying the banned red-and-white flag of the opposition, as the nationwide protest movement reached its 11th week.

“Look out the window. Stop watching TV,” the protesters chanted, a reference to state-controlled media downplaying the size and peaceful nature of the rallies.

[Follow link for many more photos . . . ]

View attachment 513247

View attachment 513248

View attachment 513249


It will be interesting to see how much longer either side can sustain this.

'Belarusian demonstrators flooded the streets of the capital Minsk on Sunday, the final day of an ultimatum set by the opposition for the embattled strongman leader to resign after months of mass protests.

'Videos taken by bystanders that were circulated by local media showed a convoy of buses carrying security personnel to the city centre along with metal cordons.

'A dozen metro stations in the centre of Minsk were closed to deter demonstrators from gathering and mobile internet was restricted.

'Exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya this month gave President Alexander Lukashenko a deadline of two weeks to resign, halt violence and release political prisoners, warning he would otherwise face a crippling general strike.'


 
Looks like we're approaching a showdown in Belarus. It will be interesting to see what the authorities do and whether it will cow the populace or incite it further:
 
Protests are continuing and the security forces are brutally responding. How long can this carry on for? What is evident is that there is a large demographic cross section of opposition to Lukashenko.
 
Protests are continuing and the security forces are brutally responding. How long can this carry on for? What is evident is that there is a large demographic cross section of opposition to Lukashenko.

No, no, you capitalist agitator; you've got it all wrong! The fraternal security forces were helping people to cross the street. You could see that they needed assistance, because some of them fell over and had to be taken away for treatment by vehicles thoughtfully provided by the state.

'Belarus told the United Nations on Monday it was not investigating a single allegation of police abuse, despite coming under Western criticism over three months of violent crackdowns on anti-government demonstrators.

'Belarus has arrested thousands of people during demonstrations that followed a disputed Aug 9 presidential election. Rights groups say hundreds of detainees reported being subjected to beatings and other abuse.

'But during a review into the country’s record by the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday, a representative of Belarus’s Investigative Committee told the global body: “Currently there have been no identified cases of unlawful acts by the police.”


 
The continuing fallout of 'other' elections.

'The political crisis in Belarus presents both a major challenge and a major opportunity to Russia. Large-scale street protests; an unprecedented level of police violence and repression; Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s loss of legitimacy both domestically and internationally – all threaten Russia’s strong influence in Belarus. Should popular protest lead to a sudden and uncontrollable overthrow of the regime, Russia would have lost the game it already appears to have won.

'Supporting the authoritarian ruler of Belarus and the violent methods he uses to suppress the population is becoming increasingly toxic for Russia. Lukashenka’s lack of legitimacy in the eyes of the Belarusian people and his international non-recognition increases the risks for Russia’s long-term interests. This concern has forced Moscow to look for new ways to maintain or even strengthen its political and economic control in Belarus, circumventing the regime while keeping it in place until it is ready to install new, Moscow-friendly figures to run the country. It provides minimal assistance to Lukashenka so that he remains office for now while at the same time keeping him vulnerable and dependent.

'Russia has a number of options, some of which it has already taken up. Firstly, Russia wants to ensure a process of constitutional reform takes place – one controlled by Moscow, of course. Both Lukashenka and Russia have recently proposed constitutional reform as a mechanism for resolving the political crisis, although details remain few. However, Moscow’s vision of reform will not suit Lukashenka – he wants to maintain his absolute power. Russia’s plans directly contradict this.

'Secondly, there is the political task for Russia of diversifying the number of figures and organisations inside Belarus it can work with, strengthening its relationships with them and thereby depriving Lukashenka of his monopoly position and his veto over decision-making in the country. Russia is currently working to create a stable infrastructure of political influence by building a network of pro-Russian parties and public associations. Some of these, ideally in their view, would become parliamentary forces and play an important role in regional government. Altogether, these processes will aim to weaken the ‘vertical of power’, eroding its loyalty to Lukashenka in favour of Russia.

'Thirdly, Russia will be trying to deepen its economic representation in Belarus. The country’s shrinking economy and reduction of credit resources mean that the Russian oligarchy will remain one of the few sources of foreign exchange for the Belarusian government. By buying out large state-owned enterprises, for example, Russia could gradually turn the senior levels of these enterprises into its own political lobbyists. It has not moved to do this yet but it has tried to in Belarus in the past. Conditions for such takeovers now appear favourable.

'Finally, similar processes will also get under way in other spheres – media, culture and education, military cooperation. The Belarusian authorities are currently keeping a close eye on these attempts, but their ability to resist will dry up together with the emptying of the Belarusian budget.

'For now, it is still premature to talk of any serious Russian short-term successes – its goals are long term, and deliberately so. Russia is prepared to be patient while monitoring the mood of the street. However, the first signs of possible future transformations are already beginning to appear on the political field.

'While EU ambassadors were initially recalled from Minsk for consultations, Vladimir Putin and his subordinates – such as Sergei Naryshkin, Sergei Shoigu, and governors of Russian regions – remained as the main foreign interlocutors for the Belarusian ruler.

'Additionally, the country’s largest public organisation, Belaya Rus, exists to support Lukashenka, and has again announced its plans to become a political party. Similar activity is observed among pro-Russian organisations, suggesting the influence of the Kremlin. State television even showed a story about plans to register the party Soyuz, which advocates further rapprochement with Russia. Such steps may be part of Lukashenka’s age-old tactics of making great show of a process and hints at reform – but the end result may well turn out to be just the same as before.'

Pavel Slunkin is an ECFR visiting fellow and former Belarusian diplomat. He focuses on Belarus, its domestic and foreign policy, relations with Russia, the European Union, and the United States.


 
The continuing fallout of 'other' elections.

'The political crisis in Belarus presents both a major challenge and a major opportunity to Russia. Large-scale street protests; an unprecedented level of police violence and repression; Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s loss of legitimacy both domestically and internationally – all threaten Russia’s strong influence in Belarus. Should popular protest lead to a sudden and uncontrollable overthrow of the regime, Russia would have lost the game it already appears to have won.

'Supporting the authoritarian ruler of Belarus and the violent methods he uses to suppress the population is becoming increasingly toxic for Russia. Lukashenka’s lack of legitimacy in the eyes of the Belarusian people and his international non-recognition increases the risks for Russia’s long-term interests. This concern has forced Moscow to look for new ways to maintain or even strengthen its political and economic control in Belarus, circumventing the regime while keeping it in place until it is ready to install new, Moscow-friendly figures to run the country. It provides minimal assistance to Lukashenka so that he remains office for now while at the same time keeping him vulnerable and dependent.

'Russia has a number of options, some of which it has already taken up. Firstly, Russia wants to ensure a process of constitutional reform takes place – one controlled by Moscow, of course. Both Lukashenka and Russia have recently proposed constitutional reform as a mechanism for resolving the political crisis, although details remain few. However, Moscow’s vision of reform will not suit Lukashenka – he wants to maintain his absolute power. Russia’s plans directly contradict this.

'Secondly, there is the political task for Russia of diversifying the number of figures and organisations inside Belarus it can work with, strengthening its relationships with them and thereby depriving Lukashenka of his monopoly position and his veto over decision-making in the country. Russia is currently working to create a stable infrastructure of political influence by building a network of pro-Russian parties and public associations. Some of these, ideally in their view, would become parliamentary forces and play an important role in regional government. Altogether, these processes will aim to weaken the ‘vertical of power’, eroding its loyalty to Lukashenka in favour of Russia.

'Thirdly, Russia will be trying to deepen its economic representation in Belarus. The country’s shrinking economy and reduction of credit resources mean that the Russian oligarchy will remain one of the few sources of foreign exchange for the Belarusian government. By buying out large state-owned enterprises, for example, Russia could gradually turn the senior levels of these enterprises into its own political lobbyists. It has not moved to do this yet but it has tried to in Belarus in the past. Conditions for such takeovers now appear favourable.

'Finally, similar processes will also get under way in other spheres – media, culture and education, military cooperation. The Belarusian authorities are currently keeping a close eye on these attempts, but their ability to resist will dry up together with the emptying of the Belarusian budget.

'For now, it is still premature to talk of any serious Russian short-term successes – its goals are long term, and deliberately so. Russia is prepared to be patient while monitoring the mood of the street. However, the first signs of possible future transformations are already beginning to appear on the political field.

'While EU ambassadors were initially recalled from Minsk for consultations, Vladimir Putin and his subordinates – such as Sergei Naryshkin, Sergei Shoigu, and governors of Russian regions – remained as the main foreign interlocutors for the Belarusian ruler.

'Additionally, the country’s largest public organisation, Belaya Rus, exists to support Lukashenka, and has again announced its plans to become a political party. Similar activity is observed among pro-Russian organisations, suggesting the influence of the Kremlin. State television even showed a story about plans to register the party Soyuz, which advocates further rapprochement with Russia. Such steps may be part of Lukashenka’s age-old tactics of making great show of a process and hints at reform – but the end result may well turn out to be just the same as before.'

Pavel Slunkin is an ECFR visiting fellow and former Belarusian diplomat. He focuses on Belarus, its domestic and foreign policy, relations with Russia, the European Union, and the United States.


Moscow is taking a measured approach to the dilemma it has in Belarus. It has realised that if it is seen to be fully supporting Lukashenko it will further sour Belarusian public opinion towards Russia (which remains more positive than negative). But if it does not help Lukashenko keep a lid on things, events may develop that it would view as detrimental (i.e. genuine democracy and overtures to the West). This article sums up nicely the direction Moscow is taking in order to try and bind Belarus more firmly to itself.
 
Additional sanctions applied:
 
Additional sanctions applied:
Just what effect will this have on the individuals concerned or will they not even notice the sanctions?
 
The gaols must be getting pretty crowded by now.

'More than 1,000 anti-government demonstrators were detained across Belarus on the 13th consecutive Sunday of protests calling for the resignation of Alyaksandr Lukashenka and a new presidential election following a disputed vote three months ago.

'The Vyasna human rights group said a total of 1,024 people were detained by security forces on November 8, with video and photographs on social media showing men, often in plainclothes, brutally wrestling demonstrators to the ground and forcing them into police transport.

'Most of the arrests took place in the capital, Minsk, where several thousand participants in a so-called March Of Democracy waved the red-and-white flags and umbrellas that have become the symbol of the opposition.'


 
Another Sunday in Minsk.

'Belarusian police detained hundreds of people who took to the streets in mass demonstrations on Sunday chanting “I’m going out”, the last known written words of an anti-government protester who died last week.

'A witness in the capital Minsk said police had used tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the crowds demonstrating against President Alexander Lukashenko.

'Belarus has been mired in political crisis for months. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets every week since an election in August that they say was rigged, something Lukasheko denies. They want the veteran leader, in power for 26 years, to resign.

'The street rallies were re-ignited following the death of Roman Bondarenko, a 31-year old anti-government protester. He died in hospital in Minsk on Thursday following what demonstrators said was a severe beating by security forces.

'The interior ministry has denied responsibility for Bondarenko’s death, saying he
was killed in a scuffle with civilians.

'Security forces in riot gear and shields on Sunday flooded the square where Bondarenko was detained, pulling down opposition flags, kicking over memorial lamps and dragging people from the crowds and frog-marching them to vans, a witness said.

'Video footage by local media also showed security forces entering apartments in the area in search of protesters. A video clip posted on social media showed three men in riot gear attending to a man who appeared to be unconscious.

'The Viasna (Spring) human rights group said 504 people had been detained so far by police so far during Sunday’s protests around the country.'


 
With winter weather on the way, you could expect that fewer would turn out.

'Protesters challenging Alyaksandr Lukashenka's grip on power rallied in the Belarusian capital, with little sign that either the Lukashenka government or his opponents were prepared to give ground.

'Rights groups said dozens of people were detained as protesters gathered in several places around Minsk on November 22, chanting "Long Live Belarus!" and carrying signs and the historic red-and-white Belarusian flag.

'Protest organizers had asked people to gather in different spots around the capital before forming bigger groups -- a bid to thwart crowd-control efforts by police. Outside one subway station in central Minsk, demonstrators were met with flashbang grenades. Masked and balaclava-wearing officers ripped flags from some people's hands in another location. Convoys of military vehicles were spotted in several parts of the city as well. The rights group Vyasna-96 said at least 70 people had been detained by police as of midafternoon.

'Earlier this month, the intensity of the protests had appeared to be waning. But following the death of 31-year-old protester who was severely beaten by police, the demonstrations drew new support. On November 20, thousands attended a memorial service for the man, Raman Banderenka, with many chanting "You Are a Hero!" and "Long Live Belarus!"


 

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