Belarusian police use stun grenades to disperse protesters during huge opposition march in Minsk, with ‘gunfire’ reported
Belarusian police have used stun grenades to disperse protesters heading to President Alexander Lukashenko's residence in Minsk, after thousands of anti-government demonstrators peacefully marched through the city's streets.
During the huge anti-government rally, held in the capital on Sunday, participants ran into multiple police cordons and were forcedto circumvent them. One such encounter turned out to be particularly fiery, as law enforcement used harsh measures 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 cops and into a residential area.
Following the confrontation, multiple protesters were reportedly detained. The "riot control" measures were used after protesters amassed near a regional police HQ, Minsk authorities told Moscow news agency RIA Novosti.
Sunday’s protests across Belarus were yet another manifestation of weekly anti-Lukashenko demonstrations, which have continued for nearly three months since the disputed August 9 presidential elections. This time, thousands turned up in Minsk to mark the eve of the date set as a so-called “ultimatum” by the opposition, which claims the results were rigged, and wants the president to step down.
In what may be a last throw of the dice, at least for now, exiled opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovsya, who some believe really won the August contest, has called for a nationwide strike on Monday. If her plan succeeds, it could cripple the economy, putting huge pressure on Lukashenko. However, should it fail, it might be the end of the road for her movement, in its present form.
Tikhanovskaya herself is in Lithuania and is currently self-isolating after a Slovenian official she recently met tested positive for coronavirus. She has been conducting a tour of EU capitals, meeting various political figures and Belarusian emigrants.
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