Protests in Belarus continue with pressure on Lukashenko

Protesters in Belarus staged a new mass demonstration on Sunday against the powerful Alexander Lukashenko, who has refused to step down after a disputed re-election and has turned to Russia for help.

Protests in Belarus continue with pressure on Lukashenko

Lukashenko, who ruled the former Soviet Union for 26 years, launched an unprecedented protest in the former Soviet Union on August 9 after claiming re-election with 80 percent of the vote.

Opposition rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya says she won the vote, but Lukashenko's security forces detained thousands of protesters, most of whom accused police of beatings and violence.

Several people have been killed in the crackdown, but Belarusians have been protesting across the country for a month, with more than 100,000 people flooded the streets of the capital, Minsk, over the weekend.

Dozens of people were detained’ this week, including student protesters and journalists covering rallies.

About 4,000 people took to the streets on Saturday and more than 90 people were detained’ the interior ministry said.

- 'Strong when united'.

Tikhanovskaya, a 37-year-old political teenager, called on supporters to make their choice on Sunday, the "March of Unity" starting at 1100 GMT.

"Remember we are strong as long as we are not united," he said in a short video address.

Takhnoskaya ran for office after sending the blogger's husband to prison and barring him from running with several other prominent Lukashenko critics.

He left Belarus under pressure from the authorities and sought refuge in Lithuania, a member of the European Union.

On Friday, Tikhanovskaya addressed a UN Security Council meeting via video link, calling for sanctions against those responsible for alleged electoral fraud and human rights abuses.

The Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have blacklisted Lukashenko and 29 other high-ranking officials in their administration, but other members of the EU bloc are reluctant to personally target Belarus's strongman.

Russia has said it will respond to Western efforts to "control the situation" and President Vladimir Putin has raised the possibility of sending military aid.

Putin wants to unite Russia and Belarus, and Moscow has called for tighter integration with recent offers of economic and military aid.

In the past, Lukashenko rejected full alliances and wanted Moscow to play against the West, but now his powers are limited.

On Thursday, Lukashenko hosted Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and replaced him as head of the KGB security service, which some analysts say could be under pressure from Moscow.

The leader said Russia and Belarus had agreed on issues they "could not agree on at first" and planned to close "all talks" with Putin in Moscow in the next few weeks.

Lukashenko made headlines when he claimed during a meeting with Mikhail Mishustin that his security forces had intercepted German calls showing that Putin's enemy, Alexei Navalny, had been poisoned by a Soviet-era neuropathic nerve agent. Was, polluted.

Belarusian state television broadcast a "break" in which a mic in Warsaw and Nick in Berlin discussed Navalny's content and called Lukashenko a "hard nut to break."

In Russia, social media mocked the Belarusian leader, and even some pro-Kremlin propagandists expressed outrage.

Lukashenko also raised eyebrows last month when he pointed an assault rifle and showed his 15-year-old son, Nikolai, in a bulletproof vest with him as he carried weapons.

Some observers say Lukashenko wanted to support Moscow, but that is becoming a responsibility.


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