Minsk (dpa) – After nearly five months of protests in Belarus against ruler Alexander Lukashenko, leader Swetlana Tikhanovaya praised the courage of the people.
Despite arrests and police brutality, the protest is now part of many people’s daily lives, said the 38-year-old in exile in the EU. “It will stay that way until victory,” she said, referring to the “March of the Will” scheduled for Sunday.
Despite the ban on demonstration, many people initially gathered in their residential areas and then formed demonstration marches, as can be seen on various channels of the Telegram intelligence service. Men in uniform in balaclavas again took violent actions against the peaceful protesters. The Wesna Human Rights Center initially listed the names of more than 70 people arrested.
As with the previous demonstrations on Sunday, the people demanded the resignation of Lukashenko. Many carried the white, red and white flags of the opposition. Tichanovskaya, who had left for neighboring EU country Lithuania under pressure from Lukashenko after the 9 August presidential elections, said much has been achieved.
There are EU sanctions and Lukashenko is no longer recognized by the West as president. Politically persecuted people could fall back on aid programs from the democracy movement. Above all, people would stand up for their rights together and no longer bow to oppression. “We have learned to be proud of being Belarusians,” she said. Every Sunday march is a new warning not to give up.
Lukashenko, 66, is considered the “last dictator in Europe”. After the election, he was declared the winner with 80.1 percent of the vote. The democracy movement sees Tichanovskaya as the winner. She agreed to lead the country temporarily after Lukashenko stepped down. The movement also calls for an end to police brutality and the release of all political prisoners. The protests have already resulted in several deaths, hundreds of injuries and about 30,000 arrests.