Minsk, 22 November 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Thousands of people protested peacefully against Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko for the 15th consecutive Sunday this year, despite violence from security forces.
People first gathered in residential areas in Minsk and then formed protest marches, carrying historic white-red-white flags.
Police started arresting people right as the the unauthorized meeting started. Human rights organization Viasna published the names of those arrested. On each of the previous two Sundays, police arrested about 1,000 people.
People also marched in other cities, demanding Lukashenko’s resignation.
Hundreds of uniformed members of the Ministry of Interior and the army were gathered in Minsk, with prisoner transporters, water cannon and other heavy equipment at the ready.
The capital’s large squares were cordoned off with metal bars, pictures shared on the news channel Telegram showed.
Authorities restricted mobile internet services and blocked several metro stations to prevent mass gatherings.
Sunday’s marches were officially labelled a “March Against Fascism,” a response from the organizers to recent insults by Lukashenko that they were fascists.
There have been mass protests against Lukashenko every weekend in Minsk since an August 9 presidential election that the opposition, world powers and international observers say were neither free nor fair. The Sunday demonstrations have usually been the largest.
Lukashenko, 66, has led Belarus, a former Soviet republic between Russia and several EU member states, for more than a quarter of a century, tolerating little dissent.
Protesters consider exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya to be the real winner of the election.