Live blog: The day after the election Protests and arrests resume in Belarus
Following a hotly contested presidential election in Belarus, protests have erupted in cities across the country. The most violent clashes have been in Minsk, where riot police have resorted to water cannons, stun grenades, and even rubber bullets. According to official reports, more than 50 demonstrators and at least 39 police officers were injured during protests on Sunday night, August 9. The authorities arrested roughly 3,000 people. Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya) has refused to recognize the preliminary election results, which handed long-time incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Lukashenka) a landslide victory, though Tikhanovskaya has also declined to join the protesters in the street.
What’s happening right now (Monday, August 10)?
Groups of protesters are assembling in pockets throughout Minsk. Riot police sometimes clash with demonstrators, arresting individuals, but the crowds usually disperse when the authorities move in.
With that we are ending our live blog for the night. But the clashes between law enforcement officers and demonstrators in Minsk are still ongoing: riot police are arresting people or dispersing them with stun grenades — but the protesters are simply scattering into the surrounding area and then reconvening. The number of arrests and injuries remain unknown at this time. Many streets in downtown Minsk have been closed off by police or blocked off by demonstrators. Some protesters are calling for a general strike tomorrow (August 11) — stay tuned.
2:00 a.m. local time: Hereʼs whatʼs happening
— Earlier in the day, riot police blocked off the entrances to the stella on Prospekt Pobeditelei in Minsk. This was the location of protest a rally on election day (August 9), as well as the site where opposition demonstrators planned to gather on August 10.
— Instead, demonstrators gathered in pockets in different parts of the city and flocked towards the city center. The two main places where demonstrators clashed with law enforcement officers were outside of the Pushkin Metro Station and near the Riga Mall.
— Special forces were deployed to try and disperse the crowds. They used stun grenades, rubber bullets, and water cannons against demonstrators. In response, protesters set off fireworks in the direction of law enforcement officers and built barricades (rebuilding them multiple times after police tore them down).
— Other Belarusian cities saw protest rallies too. Several of these demonstrations were met with riot police, who made mass arrests.
— Police officials reported the first fatality during the protests around 11:00 p.m. Minsk time. A man allegedly tried to throw and unidentified explosive at law enforcement officers, which supposedly exploded in his hands and killed him. Journalists are still looking for eyewitnesses and the relatives of the deceased.
Snapshots from this eveningʼs protests in Minsk
What appears to be a tear gas canister hitting the balcony of an apartment building near Pushkin Metro Station in Minsk.
Photos from Prospekt Pobeditelei in Minsk. Police later dispersed this crowd and demonstrators scattered in different directions.
Tut.by has published a video of law enforcement officers dispersing protesters on Pushkin Square in Minsk.
Several Belarusian Telegram channels are reporting that riot police in Minsk are using ambulances to get around. This includes reports from a Belsat correspondent, who allegedly noticed this happening near Pushkin Square. An eyewitness also told Mediazona that security officials are «approaching protesters disguised as doctors.» There is no photographic or video evidence to back up these claims as of yet.
Minsk right now.
Clashes between protesters and law enforcement officers are ongoing at Pushkin Square in Minsk, reports RIA Novosti. Police officers are using tear gas and stun grenades, while drivers are blocking vehicles carrying the internal troops, who are trying to get to the square.
The Belarusian Interior Ministry has reported a death near Minskʼs Pushkin Metro Station
One of the protesters at the site allegedly tried to throw an «unidentified explosive device» towards special forces officers and it exploded in his hands, killing him, police officials reported.
The explosion took place around 11:00 p.m. Minsk time. This is the first fatality reported during the protests.
Mass protests in the Belarusian cities of Vitebsk, Brest, Gomel, and Grodno have already ended; police officers are now detaining people who are walking alone.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has contacted her campaign team and confirmed that she is fine.
In addition to the large groups of protesters gathered near the Riga Mall (on Surhanava Street) and outside of the Pushkin Metro Station in Minsk, eyewitnesses are reporting pockets of demonstrators outside of the Malinovka and Petrovshchina metro stations, and in the Uruchcha district. People are standing and clapping, while drivers honk their horns.
Lawyer Sergey Badamshin has appealed to the Russian Interior Ministry and Security Services (FSB), demanding urgent action to secure Meduza special correspondent Maxim Solopovʼs return to Russia.
Five thousand people have gathered near the Riga Mall on Surhanava Street in Minsk, reports Tut.by.
Protesters in Brest are setting off fireworks at riot police officers. In Bereza, police officers arenʼt letting anyone into the city center, and are using stun grenades and rubber bullets.
Right now outside of the Pushkin Metro Station in Minsk.
More than 20 buses with riot police are headed towards the Pushkin Metro Station, one of the locations where protesters have gathered in Minsk, reports the Telegram channel Maya Kraina Belarus. According to Belsat, riot police are firing stun grenades at protesters at this location and Onlinerʼs correspondent is also reporting that the security forces are dispersing protesters there.
10:00 pm local time: Hereʼs what happening
— On Monday evening protesters began taking to the streets in cities across Belarus once again. There was no centralized gathering in Minsk (unlike last night). Instead, opposition demonstrators were dispersed throughout the city in small groups.
— Law enforcement are continuing to arrest protesters in Minsk and other cities, and clashes have taken place. Riot police are using stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets. A special forces detached was deployed in Minsk.
— Svetlana Tikhanovskayaʼs campaign team has lost contact with her. She reportedly left the Central Election Commission earlier in the evening after filing an appeal against the voting results. Where she went from there remains unknown.
Svetlana Tikhanovskayaʼs spokesperson, Anna Krasulina, told Radio Svaboda that they are unable to reach her. She left the Central Election Commission earlier in the afternoon, said «I made a decision,» and then went off to an unknown destination. What decision she made remains unknown.
The arrest of Meduza special correspondent Maxim Solopov
As told by Daily Storm journalist Anton Strakov, who was also arrested while covering the protests in Minsk during the night of August 9–10:
«We met five minutes before our arrest. We ran from the riot police and the tear gas, and ran into a dead end where there was a fence. I boosted Maxim up so he could climb the fence. Then he was supposed to help me over. But at the moment when Maxim [climbed over] a large detachment of riot police came out of a gate on his side of the fence and attacked him immediately. I remember that Maxim managed to get down on his knees, put his hands up, and say that he is a journalist.They knocked him down anyway, [it was] three guys, I think, and they started to hit him pretty hard. I even have video. From what I could see he was conscious [after the beating], he walked on his own. I didnʼt manage to see [what injuries he had], because the riot police appeared on our side of the fence literally within seconds, and started beating us too.
They treated us well [at the jail] since we are foreigners. They didnʼt beat [us]. They beat the others severely, the Belarusians. We didnʼt have anything to eat or drink for 24 hours.»
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is being held at the Central Election Commission against her will, her campaign team reports.
An estimated two to three thousand people have gathered on Pritytskogo Street in Minsk, Tut.byʼs journalist reports. «People are getting out of cars, climbing onto roofs, and arenʼt planning to leave.»
Right now outside the Belarusian Embassy in St. Petersburg.
Russian journalist Semyon Pegov (WarGonzo) has been released from custody in Belarus.
People near the Korona Shopping Center on Kaĺvaryjskaja Street in Minsk are feeling tear gas, says Belsatʼs correspondent. Law enforcement officers are also making arrests at the site, including detaining people who are attempting to hide inside the mall.
Reporters said they spotted snipers, as well. According to Belsatʼs correspondent, officers are firing rubber bullets and a journalist was hit in the knee.
Belarusian media are sharing photos of people in military uniforms on Kaĺvaryjskaja Street in Minsk. Nexta Live claims that they are military special forces.
Journalists from the Daily Storm freed
Russian journalists Anton Starkov and Dmitry Lysenko from the Daily Storm are free. Employees from the Russian Embassy in Belarus picked them up from a Minsk jail.
According to reports from Nasha Niva and Euroradio, security forces have «opened fire» on protesters on Kaĺvaryjskaja Street in Minsk.
Nasha Nivaʼs correspondent was wounded in the leg (the injured journalist was picked up by an ambulance).
What the journalists meant by «opened fire» remains unclear, although Tut.byʼs correspondent reported that a stun grenade went off at this location. According to a reporter from Belsat,
Russian journalist Semyon Pegov (WarGonzo) is set to be released in the next 10–15 minutes. He will be able to return to Russian tomorrow, says the Russian Ambassador to Belarus (via RIA Novosti).
More photos of protesters blocking Kaĺvaryjskaja Street in Minsk.
Riot police making an arrest near the «Yubileiny» hotel in Minsk.
Police officers in Minskʼs Syerabranka neighborhood are reportedly using stun grenades again. On Sunday night, several of these weapons exploded under the feet of demonstrators, injuring people who were rushing to aid others already wounded.
Mediazona correspondents in Minsk say the cityʼs Internet connection is worse than it was on Sunday, when rolling outages swept the capital during the final day of the Belarusian presidential election.
Protesters in Belarus have adopted the tactic of assembling in groups, dispersing when confronted by riot troops, and then scattering before regrouping again at another location.
According to Belarusian lawyer Anton Gashinsky, Meduza special correspondent Maxim Solopov and Daily Storm journalists Anton Starkov and Dmitry Lysenko are supposedly being held at a jail in Zhodzina. The charges remain unknown.
Demonstrators assemble in Warsaw to protest Alexander Lukashenkoʼs latest re-election.
Right now outside the Belarusian embassy in Moscow.
Roughly 20 demonstrators assembled in the city of Grodno. As many as 50 riot police officers reportedly arrested them within seconds.
Deutsche Welle reports election results for Belarusians who voted in Berlin: 93 percent for Tikhanovskaya, 5 percent for Lukashenko.
A group of protesters has blocked Kaĺvaryjskaja Street in Minsk.
The Telegram channel Nasha Niva has reported a «violent altercation» between protesters and police officers near the «Yubileiny» hotel in Minsk.
More than 500 people have assembled outside the Belarusian embassy in Moscow, reports Mediazona. A day earlier, hundreds of Belarusian citizens lined up to cast ballots in the presidential election. Many of these people were unable to vote before the polls at the embassy closed.
Within the next hour, Russian diplomats hope to resolve the situation surrounding the arrest of WarGonzo journalist Semyon Pegov, who was reporting in Belarus, says the news agency RIA Novosti.
Russiaʼs Foreign Ministry comments on the presidential election and arrest of Russian journalists in Belarus: «Despite attempts by certain forces to organize mass protests after the conclusion of voting, the authorities have managed to prevent a dangerous escalation of the situation.
«Unfortunately, events have not been without incidents involving Russian journalists covering the election. Russiaʼs embassy in Minsk is addressing each individual case.»
Drivers honking their horns in protest on the streets of Minsk.
Belarusian KGB chief Valery Vakulchik told the television network ONT that officials intercepted messages indicating an attempt on Svetlana Tikhanovskayaʼs life. Acting on President Lukashenkoʼs orders, Vakulchik says he stationed 120 agents outside Tikhanovskayaʼs campaign headquarters as a preventative measure. «Theyʼve tried not to attract attention but their presence was obvious,» explained Vakulchik.
Belarusian state investigators have opened 21 separate felony rioting cases against more than 80 people suspected of inciting unrest on Sunday, August 9, reports the Russian state news agency Interfax. According to RIA Novosti, these cases were launched against people in Minsk and 11 other Belarusian cities.
The man who fell underneath a police van in Minsk last night is alive, reports Belarusian Health Minister Vladimir Karanik (Uladzimir Karanik). «He was taken to an emergency hospital, where he is located now,» he said. The man was diagnosed with a minor traumatic brain injury, a concussion, a lower-lip contusion, and intoxication.
«[…] The situations involving [journalists] Maxim Solopov and Semyon Pegov are extremely concerning. Journalists at Daily Storm, who say they managed to avoid serious injuries, reported that police officers attacked Maxim Solopov. Both Pegov and Solopov have stopped responding to messages.
The use of force against our colleagues, as well as the lack of information about their condition and whereabouts, has outraged us. As representatives of the Russian mass media, we demand that the Belarusian authorities provide the public with complete and comprehensive information about the condition of journalists on the ground and, if necessary, administer medical assistance and deliver these individuals to the Russian embassy in Minsk. We also insist on their immediate release. […]»
According to Belsat, the site of the planned opposition meeting — the Minsk — Hero City Stella — has been surrounded by police wagons, water cannons, and military vehicles, but there are hardly any protesters there.
Nasha Nivaʼs correspondent in Minsk counted at least 12 arrests.
Military vehicles deployed to downtown Minsk.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya will not be participating in demonstrations opposing the results of the presidential election, her campaign announced. «The team decided that her appearance could cause the kind of provocations that we would like to avoid. As such, the team decided that she wonʼt go. And she, as a team player, has complied with this decision,» said her spokesperson, Anna Krasulina.
Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is challenging the results of the presidential election in Belarus. Tikhanovskayaʼs campaign is demanding that the Central Election Commission invalidate the results of the vote, and then hold either a recount of a re-vote at several polling stations.