‘The people’s inauguration’ Yesterday marked the fiftieth day of protests in Belarus. Here’s what happened, in a nutshell.
September 27 marked the most recent Sunday protests in Belarus. In an attempt to counter the secret inauguration of Alexander Lukashenko, demonstrators declared the rally the “people’s inauguration” of opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya). According to media estimates, the fiftieth consecutive day of protests in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, saw a significant decrease in the number of demonstrators. That being said, the rally still had more than 100,000 participants at its height. The demonstration went on for more than four hours, despite strong rain and wind. Protesters from different parts of the city gathered in columns around the Minsk – Hero City obelisk; the first arrests also took place there, as well as satirical performances (some of the demonstrators dressed up in costumes, wore crowns and mustaches, and many carried posters and portraits of Tikhanovskaya). This time around, the march that followed the rally took an unusual route: instead of marching to Lukashenko’s residence, the protesters went to the Academy of Sciences and, from there, proceeded along Independence Avenue to the Uruchcha microdistrict in the city’s northeast — where the Belarusian riot police (OMON) have their base. In total, the protesters walked more than 10 kilometers. After the end of the rally, police officers began making arrests in Uruchcha. According to preliminary figures, approximately 200 people across the country were arrested during opposition protests on September 27, and 140 of them were arrested in Minsk. In the Belarusian regions, the most severe arrests took place in Gomel — there, law enforcement officers used tear gas and flash-bang grenades against protesters.