The security forces maltreat a person lying on the ground in pairs: One with a baton, the other one tramples on him. “Shame” is shouted from the balconies of the neighbouring house. And: “You have a mother, cosmonaut.” This is what people call the Omon special forces with their helmets and protective uniforms. Stun grenades are fired. All this can be seen on a video from the Belarusian capital Minsk, posted on the independent website tut.by.
The pictures published by telegram channels and independent media from the third night of protests show even more violence than in the two days before. The authoritarian ruler Alexander Lukashenko seems willing to break up the demonstrations in the country by all means. Security forces are massively using truncheons, rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas against the people.5,000 people arrested According to the Ministry of the Interior, the long-term ruler had 5,000 people arrested nationwide on the first two days of the protests alone. Many of their relatives and friends do not know where they are now, in which of the prisons they are being held. Over 200 people are still in hospitals.
The fact that in such a situation people still go to demonstrate at all shows how great the anger about the rigged presidential election is. Over 80 percent of the votes were attributed to Lukashenko. Anyone who doubts this in the streets must expect to be bludgeoned to death immediately. Also this night numerous demonstrators were taken away and injured.
According to media reports, there are fewer people gathering in Minsk and other places in the country, such as Brest and Grodno, both cities in the west on the Polish border, Lida, near Lithuania, and Gomel in the southeast near the Russian border. Exactly how many are there is unclear, partly because the Internet is largely blocked; only the messenger service Telegram works reliably.
Against honking drivers and journalistsVarious pictures and videos show how unrestrained the emergency services act: In Nyazvish, a small town of 14,000 inhabitants southwest of Minsk, they beat demonstrators, including women, time and again. In Minsk, according to video images, even ordinary traffic policemen beat and maltreat motorcyclists. The motorists are also pursued that night, who in protest organize long honking concerts; the police beat their cars with truncheons. This time, security officers chase protesters into the courtyards and even into residential buildings in the capital.
It is conspicuous that they also take targeted action against journalists. Correspondents from the BBC, Associated Press, Tut.by, “Nascha Niwa” and Belsat among others have already been attacked. Although they carried vests with the inscription “Media” on their bodies and accreditations, memory cards with photo and video material were taken from them. Since Sunday, about 30 journalists have been arrested nationwide. For some of them it is still not clear where they are.
Overall, the emergency forces seem to be better prepared for the demonstrations that night than in the days before. What is the significance of this Belarusian protest so far? It knows no leaders: opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was forced to leave the country after pressure from the security authorities, never wanted to lead the street protests, but to make fair elections in the country possible. She sees herself as the real winner of the election. Her comrade-in-arms Maria Kalesnikawa, who wants to stay in Minsk, is trying to continue this fight, collecting information about the extensive and massive election rigging with volunteers. It is decentralized: In Minsk, people gathered in different places, that night in at least three suburbs of the city. The protesters moved in groups, withdrew, came back, erected barricades and coordinated by telegram: Using the Messenger app, protesters exchange information such as access codes to nearby homes for safety. They post videos, warn each other of provocateurs and arriving police forces. The “Nexta Live” channel now has over 1.3 million subscribers, and is broadly based: even though the demonstrations in Minsk are mostly attended by young people, especially men, the protest is broader in scope: Residents film the brutal actions, share the videos, insult the police from their homes. Passers-by in the streets also interfere, appealing to the officials to finally leave the protesters alone. Drivers join together in parades, blockade the streets of the capital under constant honking.
Image source: https://bit.ly/3kDJbt5