Demonstrators Demand President to Resign

Aug 21, 2020

On 19 August 2020, approximately 3,000 demonstrators gathered at Independence Square in the capital Minsk to demand the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko. Earlier in the day, several hundred protesters had gathered in front of the Interior Ministry building in Minsk. Elsewhere in Belarus, approximately 5,000 demonstrators gathered in Grodno and several hundred protested in Gomel. Despite Lukashenko’s order to security forces to end the protests, there were no reports of violence at these gatherings. Police officers were present, but reports indicate they did not detain anyone.

However, police officers did disperse a smaller demonstration of approximately 300 workers at Minsk Tractor Works (MTZ), where they detained at least two individuals. Additionally, at least 300 miners rallied in Salihorsk — located approximately 135 km (85 mi) south of Minsk. A strike organizer noted that the number of workers on strike at MTZ had diminished significantly; only about 300 MTZ workers were observing strike on 19 August compared to several thousand on 14 August.

Separately, the EU agreed to not recognize the results of the 9 August presidential election and is likely to impose sanctions on the leaders of the current regime. Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who contested the election, announced the establishment of a council to coordinate a transfer of power. Lukashenko has since announced a criminal investigation into the council.

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