It is day nine since the end of presidential elections in Belarus. Alexander Lukashenko keeps on grip on the power despite his loss.
On Sunday Lukashenko, whose resignation is demanded by prevalent majority of Belarusians, has finally appeared in public for the first since the beginning of unrest. It was also the first time in the history of Lukashenko’s presidency, when he spoke out in front of the crowd.
For the past week that made the whole world talk about Belarus, over-saturated with events, Lukashenko preferred to ignore the reality, downgrading the social movement to a description of ”minuscule minority of unemployed addicts” and ”sheep”.
Since August 9 the self-proclaimed president, who won with 80,1% of votes according to the official results, opted for a helicopter as a transportation vehicle. Apparently, to avoid excessive expression of love and support.
In his speech the Belarusian leader of 26 years attempted to shift the focus from the social nonacceptance of his persona towards an ostensible social conflict.
Lukashenko acknowledged the brutality of the police and military, saying ”some got under the distribution of violence in sake of the order”.
He strongly denied the self-organisation of citizens and their opinions about the fraudulent elections being formed independently. Lukashenko demanded to ”not give away the country to them”, claiming that Belarus will become ”a latrine for Europe”. He made passionate attempts to frighten people with ostensible foreign enemies:” They will suggest sending soldiers from NATO, black,yellow-mouthed”, who ”will kill us and steal from us”.
The address to the protesters ended up with a threat: ” I warn you–you play with fire”.
This hardly could be considered a reasonable tactic, considering that modern Belarus is an open country in the centre of Europe where every third citizen has Schengen visa.
Despite Lukashenko’s earlier claim about Russian military support, he said: ”We have no allies. Everybody wants us on our knees”.
The supporting crowd for the speech was gathered by officials from all over the country. People were transported into Minsk by dozens of buses. They were mainly clerks from municipalities.
During his speech Lukashenko claimed 50,000 people came to support him. However, journalists working at the spot reported from 5,000 6,000 people.
‘ONT’ was the only state channel that broadcast Lukashenko’s speech thorough a video stream, shooting from a mobile phone. The rest of the state channels, known for their pro-governmental informational line, stopped their work in solidarity with victims of police brutality.
The day earlier Minsk said its final goodbyes to the first victim of the police brutality. The burial ceremony of Alexander Taraykovski was attended by few hundreds of people.
According to the state version, the man died from an explosive that he intended to throw into the police. The witnesses and the video published later on revealed the actual course of events.
The video shows an unarmed man, identified as Alexander Taraykovski, throwing his hands in the air and walking in the direction of a group of riot policemen, being shot in the chest by police.
The same day Belarusian city of Gomel buried Alexander Vihor who was murdered in a detention center. Dozens of local residents came to honour the victim.
This Monday the jail Okrestina in Minsk announced that 7 more dead people were transported from a detention centre into a local hospital.
Over a hundred people in the biggest cities of Belarus are still considered missing.
Tortures and humiliation that peaceful Belarusians suffered from their police has shocked the world. Doctors tell about horrific injuries. The released men and women share their tragic experiences of the police treatment, aimed to break the will and sense of self-dignity.
Demonstrators were not the only ones arrested. The riot police caught and beat up people walking in the street, heading home from a shop and visa versa, including teenagers.
Overall, there were more than 6,700 arrests during the time of protests. Hundreds of people are still jailed.
The widespread violence and cruelty coming from the police within the recent days has become the last drop to budge even the most apolitical Belarusians to adjoin the civil society movement.
Sunday was the biggest day day for the opposition movement. The ”march of freedom” in Minsk gathered between 200,000 and 300,000 people. Belarusians of the biggest cities and the smallest villages went out for the anti-dictator demonstrations.
Unlike many believe, demonstrators were not only the youngsters of the progressive-thinking capital.
Belarusians showed many creative and touching ways to protest.
The demonstrations were remarkable by outstandingly well-mannered protesters, who brought water, food, and medications for the countrymen joined by one goal. People collected garbage after themselves and took off shoes before stepping on the benches.
For the last two days, while the riot police stopped its violence, opposition demonstrator remind more of a national celebration.
Following the first night of the violent police crackdown several economically essential factories shut down their work, went out on demonstrations, and released lists of demands towards the government. Dozens of the biggest state-owned factories are a part of the national strike.
At the beginning of the strikes of the factories around the country, Lukashenko claimed: ”nothing serious happened. Some 20 people left at BELAZ and the rest of the workers said ”go, men, we’ll keep on working”. However, he could not ignore massive strikes spread all over the country for too long.
On Monday Lukashenko visited the the state-owned MZKT, military vehicles factory , to demonstrate his control over workers at the factories that he claimed to be the backbone of his support.
Lukashenko’s security was noticeably nervous and his security team was mobilized with an addition of snipers, who were located at the roof of the factory before the appearance of the president.
The self-proclaimed president had to sober up being surrounded by booing workers of MZKT.
Not threats, nor excuses seemed to be effective in breaking the determination of the worker, chanting ”get out”, ”shame”, and ”liar”.
”I am not a saint. You know my cruelty. But you know– without this cruelty– there would be no country”, has become the quote of the day by Lukashenko.
On Sunday the only diplomat expressed his solidarity with protesters. The ambassador to Slovakia Igor Leshenya addressed his countrymen, saying the current mindset of the ruling government is based on admiring Stalin’s repressions.
Several officers of special forces and police, refusing to abuse their peaceful countrymen, publicly resigned. Many of them share posts on social media with a picture of resignation paper, or videos where they throw their uniform into a garbage bin.
Lieutenant Colonel Yriy Machnach of Leeda’s police shared the insight on the preparation of the violent police crackdown. He said ”the war of organs of Internal Affairs against our own people was prepared since June”.
”I was given an order to disperse and arrest supporters of opposition during the rallies. I stressed these were peaceful people, so I refused to follow this order… The ideology said that in case of the loss of current leadership we will be hanged on the boughs along the road, so we should defend them by any means. I couldn’t take it, so I just stopped coming to work”, told Mr Machnach.
Last night Svetlana Tikhanovskaya published a new video, addressing her countrymen.
She said in the statement: “I am ready to take on the responsibility and serve in this period as a national leader so that the country calms down, returns to a normal rhythm, so that we free all political prisoners in the shortest possible period and prepare … for new presidential elections.”
Now Belarusians plan to protest mainly in front of the jails to achieve the release of all political prisoners.
P.S. The Arab Sky team wants to thank independent journalists and activists of Telegram channel NEXTA, who often do their in life-threatening conditions, honoroubly performing the duty of press. We have numerous reports, accounting the press being intentionally and primarily aimed by the Belarusian police during the elections and protests. Journalists and people attempting to document the events were amongst the ones tortured the most severely.