“Maidan”. The word and what it represents horrifies him. Alexander Lukashenko repeats it in his threatening speeches as an absolute foil. But maybe also as a fatality that he sees getting closer every day. “We won’t let them tear the country apart. As I said before, there will be no Maidan, although some really want it. People need to calm down ”, warned the Belarusian head of state on Tuesday (August 10th).
The autocrat, who has just arrogated to himself a sixth electoral victory winning over 80% of the vote, in defiance of all the rules of ethics and transparency, notes with dismay that his people have in many ways the same determination and the same rage as those Ukrainians who, in 2014, managed to overthrow the power in place by camping for months and months on Maidan Square in Kiev.
Twenty-four hours after a first wave of protests historic by their scale and their geographical diversity, the crowd rose again during the night of Monday to Tuesday to cry out its anger after a poll described as a masquerade. Shortly after 7 p.m., in Minsk as in the provincial towns, the demonstrators gathered in different neighborhoods shouting “Change”, “Clear” or “Long live Belarus”.
Mass arrests, rubber bullets
Throughout the night, the crowd kept growing. Choosing decentralized action, the protesters gathered in small groups attempted to disperse the riot police action. In the capital, as barricades were gradually erected, long lines of motorists stopped in the main arteries to block the police. Inventive, the street also managed to thwart the general cut of the Internet in force since Sunday evening, communicating via Telegram, accessible thanks to VPNs. And for those who do not have this technology, word of mouth takes over.
“Lukashenko made a mistake, thinks Alesia Rudnik, policy analyst at the Center for New Ideas in Stockholm. Cutting the Internet only increases mobilization. When people don’t have access to YouTube or Facebook they want to see for themselves. “
The fact remains that the authorities have shown once again that they have little taboo on the use of force. In the capital, the army has been deployed. Beyond the mass arrests, riot police were shooting at the crowd with rubber bullets. In Brest, a town not far from the Polish border, demonstrators reported injuries caused by stun grenades. In Vitebsk, in the north-east of the country, journalists from Radio Svoboda report that around 20 people were thrown onto the asphalt, knelt down, beaten up and then put into the police van. One of the journalists had her camera ripped off.
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