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Breaking Belarus authorities raise pressure on protest leaders

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MINSK, Belarus -- Authorities in Belarus detained a leader of striking factory workers and threatened demonstrators with criminal charges Friday in a bid to stop the massive post-election protests challenging the country's authoritarian president, who accused the United States of fomenting the unrest. Investigators also summoned several opposition activists for questioning as part of a…
Breaking Belarus authorities raise pressure on protest leaders

Breaking

MINSK, Belarus —
Authorities in Belarus detained a frontrunner of inserting factory staff and threatened demonstrators with criminal prices Friday in a expose to stay the gigantic submit-election protests annoying the nation’s authoritarian president, who accused the United States of fomenting the unrest.

Investigators moreover summoned several opposition activists for questioning as fragment of a criminal probe correct into a council they created with the aim of coordinating a transition of energy for the ex-Soviet nation that President Alexander Lukashenko has dominated with an iron fist for 26 years.

Protesters are annoying that Lukashenko resign, accusing him of stealing a sixth timeframe barely than job by rigging the nation’s Aug. 9 presidential election. Many are bored stiff with sinking living standards and the shortage of alternatives beneath Lukashenko, and their disgust grew deeper as he disregarded the coronavirus pandemic and refused to boom a lockdown.

Unfazed by authorities threats, hundreds of demonstrators on Friday shaped “chains of cohesion” across the capital of Minsk prior to marching to the central Independence Sq. as submit-election protests entered their 13th straight day. Motorists honked and slowed appropriate down to block visitors in a expose of cohesion.

“I undoubtedly catch advance by the hell, they were beating me with out stay for 2 days,” acknowledged Artyom Progin, an artist whose legs catch sunless marks from police golf equipment. “Bruises and scratches will heal, however the memory of these crimes will last.”

The 65-year-extinct leader blamed the U.S. for instigating the protests that started on election night and intensified after officers declared him the winner with 80% of the vote.

“The U.S. is planning and directing every thing, and the Europeans are taking part in as much as it,” Lukashenko acknowledged whereas visiting a advise farm Friday.

The United States on Thursday described the Belarus presidential election as neither free nor gorgeous and suggested authorities to rob in a dialogue with the opposition council. European Union leaders are preparing sanctions against Belarusian officers.

Talking to agricultural staff, Lukashenko bluntly rejected Western gives to mediate between his authorities and the opposition, telling the U.S. and the EU to mind their own change.

“They want to sort out their own affairs first,” he acknowledged.

Belarus’ Interior Ministry acknowledged Friday that Yevgeny Bokhvalov, who organized a strike on the titanic Minsk Vehicle Plant, became detained, but gave no additional minute print. Workers on the factory manufacturing heavy trucks had been on strike since Monday to push for Lukashenko’s resignation, as catch staff at many different industrial vegetation across the nation.

The strike committee on the broad Belaruskali potash factory in Soligorsk acknowledged brokers from advise security company KGB detained one in every of the organizers of the walkout, Dmitry Kudelevich, but he managed to receive away by a lavatory window and fled to neighboring Ukraine.

The labor motion has supplied a complicated topic for Lukashenko, who has relied on blue-collar staff as his core pork up horrifying for many years. He has warned that strikers would possibly possibly perhaps well very successfully be fired and ordered rules enforcement to guard factory managers from opposition stress.

“Most of all, Lukashenko fears the factory staff’ drawl, so he tries to terror strike organizers and stay the strikes,” acknowledged Sergei Dylevsky, the leader of the strike-organizing committee on the Minsk Tractor Plant.

Dylevsky, a member of the opposition Coordination Council, became summoned for interrogation alongside with another council member, lawyer Maxim Znak.

“Despite the indisputable reality that they arrest us, this could perhaps well simply no longer stay the protests and place Lukashenko detect legit,” Dylevsky acknowledged.

The Prosecutor Accepted’s space of job has opened a criminal probe into the creation of the Coordination Council, charging it violated the structure and threatened national security. The council members catch rejected the accusations and demand their actions entirely follow Belarusian rules.

The council has referred to as for a unusual presidential election organized by a newly shaped election commission, as successfully as for an investigation into the drawl crackdown and compensation for victims of police violence.

In a expose to stem the day to day demonstrations, Belarus Prosecutor Accepted Alexander Konyuk on Friday warned that members in unsanctioned protests would possibly possibly perhaps well face criminal prices.

At some stage within the first four days of submit-election protests, police detained virtually 7,000 of us and injured a total bunch with rubber bullets, stun grenades and golf equipment. A minimal of three protesters died and scores displayed extreme bruises from police beatings. On Friday, the advise Investigative Committee opened an inquiry into the claims that police raped females in custody.

The ferocious crackdown fueled huge outrage and swelled protesters’ ranks, forcing authorities to interchange tactics and stay breaking up crowds. But after standing encourage for several days, police again beefed up their presence on the streets and deployed start air major factories that catch joined the strike.

On Friday, Lukashenko another time derided the opposition as Western puppets and vowed to buy motion hastily.

“You shouldn’t dismay about that. It’s my boom that I catch to resolve. And think me, we are going to resolve it within the closest days,” he acknowledged.

To counter the opposition stress, hundreds of Lukashenko’s supporters catch rallied in Minsk and diversified cities over the last days.

“The nation wants steadiness and peace, they veritably are searching for to place into mark a revolution on us,” acknowledged 46-year-extinct electrician Dmitry Shparzh who attended Friday’s rally in Minsk. “How must Lukashenko react? Naturally, he is though-provoking to revive boom.”

Hundreds of advise tv staff catch moreover long gone on strike this week, shaking the authorities’s relief an eye on of the media. Lukashenko acknowledged Friday that several Russian TV journalists were working at Belarusian advise TV to receive the gap.

In quest of to tighten authorities relief an eye on over info, the advise publishing apartment has stopped printing high impartial newspapers, the Narodnaya Volya and Komsomolskaya Pravda, citing gear malfunction.

“It successfully amounts to the introduction of censorship,” acknowledged Narodnaya Volya editor Iosif Seredich.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Lukashenko’s leading election challenger and the wife of an opposition blogger who has been jailed since Would possibly perhaps possibly perhaps, suggested factory staff to proceed inserting in a video launched Friday.

Tsikhanouskaya, who left Belarus for Lithuania after contesting the election outcomes that gave her 10% of the vote, spoke Friday at a news convention in Vilnius, calling for a unusual election. Her lawyer on Friday submitted a formal allure to Belarus’ Supreme Court to buy a sight at to receive the Aug. 9 vote invalidated.

“Fresh gorgeous, free and transparent elections wants to be held,” Tsikhanouskaya acknowledged. “The of us of Belarus catch woken up, they veritably make no longer are searching for to stay in dismay and lies anymore.”

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Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and Liudas Dapkus in Vilnius, Lithuania, contributed to this document.

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Practice AP’s protection of the political turmoil in Belarus at https://www.apnews.com/Belarus

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