Police use stun grenades to disperse protesters after massive march in Minsk, ‘gunfire’ reported
Belarusian police have used stun grenades to disperse protesters heading to President Alexander Lukashenko's residence in central Minsk, after thousands of anti-government demonstrators peacefully marched through the streets.
A massive column of protesters proceeded through Minsk on Saturday, running into multiple police cordons and having to circumvent them. One such encounter turned out to be particularly fiery, as law enforcement used stun grenades to disperse the crowd.
Claims of rubber bullets being used against protesters have appeared in the media, while local police said they were checking reports of "gunfire" during clashes.
Footage circulating online shows several grenade blasts in the middle of a street, with protesters running away from law enforcement into a residential sector.
Following the barrage, multiple protesters were reportedly detained. The "riot control" measures were used after protesters amassed near a regional police HQ, Minsk law enforcement told RIA Novosti.
Saturday’s protests across Belarus were part of weekly anti-Lukashenko demonstrations, which have continued for nearly three months since the disputed August 9 presidential elections, at times drawing only a handful of people. This time, however, thousands turned up in Minsk to mark the eve of the date set as a so-called “ultimatum” by the opposition, which claims the election results were rigged, and wants the president to step down.
Opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who is in Lithuania and is currently self-isolating after a Slovenian official she recently met tested positive for coronavirus, has threatened Lukashenko with strikes and mass protests starting on Monday. The president has repeatedly said in the past that he would not relent to outside pressure.
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