Live-blogging day three of protests in Belarus
Belarus is witnessing a third day of protests following a contested presidential race that ended officially with a landslide victory for long-time incumbent Alexander Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Lukashenka). The main opposition candidate, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya), rejected the state’s election results and demonstrators have clashed with riot police on the streets of Minsk and other cities. During the first two nights of protests, on Sunday and Monday, August 9 and 10, law enforcement brutally suppressed demonstrators, beating people and firing tear gas and rubber bullets into crowds. Several journalists covering the unrest have also been attacked and arrested.
What happened today:
- Svetlana Tikhanovskaya left Belarus and is now in Lithuania.
- Two videos of Tikhanovskaya appeared online: one where she suggests that she went abroad to protect her children and another where she calls on supporters to stop protesting.
- In the second video, Tikhanovskaya appears to be under duress. She reads her statement from a sheet of paper without looking up at the camera. Additionally, Meduza has confirmed that the video was recorded in the office of Belarus’s central election commissioner.
- The state news agency BelTA released footage of “provocateurs” being arrested. The individuals featured in the video include two activists from “Open Russia” who went to Belarus to participate in election monitoring.
- Belarusian state investigators say they will seize any vehicles used to block roadways.
This concludes our live blog for tonight. Whether or not the demonstrations in Belarus will continue tomorrow remains unclear. Stay tuned to Meduza to find out. Have a safe night, everyone.
2:00 a.m. local time: Hereʼs whatʼs happening
- Demonstrators took the streets in cities across Minsk again tonight, but the protests in Minsk and Grodno attracted the most attention. In Grodno, a military jeep collided with a civilian vehicle.
- The security forces concentrated on drivers today: they beat passing cars with truncheons, broke windows, and pulled motorists from their vehicles so they could beat them up and arrest them.
- Riot police appeared to be targeting reporters and photojournalists, and deliberately breaking their equipment. Several journalists had their flash drives confiscated or were forced to delete pictures.
- Like yesterday, protesters gathered in small groups in different parts of Minsk. Some of them managed to build barricades from scrap material, but these were quickly taken down by riot police.
- Law enforcement officers beat up and arrested demonstrators in the courtyards of their apartment buildings, while onlookers shouted at them from the upstairs windows and balconies of their homes.
Protesters in the city of Zhlobin (Gomel Region) hoisted a red and white flag in the city center.
Tut.by has published photographs of protesters injured by rubber bullets. Warning: these images contain a lot of blood.
The protesters in the Syerabranka neighborhood have been dispersed, Sputnik Belarus claims. Ambulances are on the scene dealing with injuries.
On the other hand, the Telegram channel Maya Kraina Belarus reports that demonstrators had reconvened and started to build barricades, until security forces arrived in unmarked vehicles and started beating protesters. «According to one eyewitnesses, after 10 minutes he saw that a paramedic was trying to revive one of those guys, whether or not heʼs alive is unknown,» the channel says.
Onliner: Injured protesters from Kamennaya Gorka are being admitted to Hospital Number 10. One was hit with a rubber bullet near his eye. Another injured person says that he was filming the demonstrations on his phone from his car when he was pulled from the vehicle and severely beaten.
Another eyewitness told Belsat that police were stopping passing cars near the Kuntsevishchina Metro Station, pulling people from their vehicles, and beating them up.
A police van drove into the crowd outside of the Riga Mall: riot police fired rubber bullets at people and cars, and made arrests, reports Radio Svaboda.
Meanwhile, according to RIA Novosti, protesters on Rokossovski Avenue have destroyed a police bus. Riot police are trying to disperse the demonstrators and there have been reports of injuries. Ambulances are also on the scene.
A clean-up operation has begun near the Riga Mall, writes TUT.by: police vans and water cannons are on site and there are also reports of what sounds like shots.
«Doctors with the people» during a rally near the Bison Sculpture in Minsk.
Radio Svabodaʼs correspondent shares some «finds» from the streets of Minsk: a rubber bullet, a casing, a pin from a stun grenade, and two cartridges. «One of them looks like a blank cartridge, the other resembles a live round,» the post says.
Via the Russian Embassy in Minsk: «Meduza special correspondent Maxim Solopov (in the photo on the left) has been released and has already left for Russia, accompanied by employees from the embassyʼs consular department.»
Nexta Live is reporting violent clashes between protesters and police officers in the city of Zhabinka (Brest Region, southwestern Belarus). A police car was set on fire.
Mass arrests are taking place during opposition rallies in the city of Vawkavysk in southwestern Belarus, reports Nasha Niva.
Security forces in Minsk attacked a BBC film crew and tried to break their camera. The journalists had official accreditation and were all wearing vests and press cards.
Video footage from Onliner shows riot police in Minsk surrounding various members of the press, and even hitting and kicking them.
Radio Svaboda: Demonstrators on Rokossovski Avenue in Minsk have surrounded the riot police and are preventing four police vans from leaving the site. There are significantly more protesters than police officers.
Opposition Telegram channels are once again reporting that law enforcement officers are using ambulances to get around Minsk. Eyewitnesses said the same thing yesterday, but today thereʼs photos.
The current situation in Minsk
As told by Onliner: «Riot police and internal troops are dispersing small groups of people in different parts of the city. The protesters» [have] a proven tactic: they scattered all across the courtyards and parks at the first [sign of danger] — within a few minutes theyʼve reconvened. Kamennaya Gorka, Uruchcha, the Studenckaja Vioska district, and Lebyadziny are buzzing.
Explosions from stun grenades can be heard in Uruchcha and Kamennaya Gorka. Some of the detentions are very harsh.»
In Lida (a city in the Grodno Region of western Belarus), riot police used stun grenades and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters. According to an eyewitness, people responded by throwing rocks at police vans, Mediazona reports.
Protesters marching through the city center in Gomel, chanting «Gomel, leave!» («Гомель, выходи!»).
Riot police forming a chain in Minskʼs Syerabranka neighborhood.
Law enforcement officers are making arrests in the city of Grodno. Riot police surrounded Tut.byʼs correspondent and photographer, and forced them to delete several pictures, warning them not to photograph officers «or you will have problems.»
Protesters demonstrating outside of the Belarusian Embassy in Kyiv today
The Belarusian Embassy in Moscow also witnessed demonstrations
Demonstrators are breaking up the sidewalk and throwing paving stones at a police van in Minskʼs Kamennaya Gorka neighborhood, reports Nasha Niva. According to Radio Svabodaʼs correspondent, the protesters on Kamennaya Gorka have set up barricades, and are using fireworks and firecrackers to fend off soldiers from the internal troops. Riot police are responding with stun grenades.
Dozens of cars are now blocking the entrance to Rokossovski Avenue in Minsk, as riot police officers disperse and arrest protesters there, reports TUT.by.
Protests are taking place in smaller Belarusian towns, as well. Earlier, three vans carrying riot police officers arrived in the town of Zaslawye (with a population of approximately 15,000 people), dispersed demonstrators, and then left. The protesters are now reconvening, reports Nasha Niva.
Minsk, right now.
Maria Kolesnikova (Maryia Kalesnikava), a member of Tikhanovskayaʼs campaign triumvirate — has released a video address. «We ask the ruling authorities not to ignore the will of the people. Donʼt drown it with water cannons, donʼt stun it with grenades, and donʼt beat it with truncheons. On the streets weʼre seeing ordinary people who want change,» she says.
Much like during yesterdayʼs demonstrations, protesters in Minsk are gathering in pockets throughout the city. While Kuku and Belsat are reporting the use of stun grenades in the Kamennaya Gorka neighborhood, Euroradio is reporting the use of fireworks. Meanwhile, «smoke bombs» have been set off in the Partizanskaya Metro Station. Demonstrators have also blocked off Rokossovski Avenue, reports Radio Svaboda.
Tut.by has shared footage from Monday nightʼs protest in Minsk where a man approached a group of riot police, before suddenly staggering and collapsing.
The Telegram channel Belamova has shared a video showing police officers attacking someone dressed as a member of the press, wearing a bright vest and carrying a video camera on his shoulder. Itʼs unclear where the video was recorded.
Hundreds of demonstrators have reportedly assembled in the Minsk neighborhood of Syerabranka, where police have been accumulating an arsenal of heavy equipment. So far, no one has been arrested, says the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. Telegram channels linked to the Belarusian opposition say protesters have been setting off fireworks in the area.
Tut.by has published a video showing the violent arrest of a driver in Minsk. Police reportedly fired directly at the vehicle, broke the windows, and dragged the motorist from the car before beating the individual with clubs.
Pushkin Square in Minsk right now.
The Belarusian Investigative Committee says that the man who died during last nightʼs demonstration was a 34-year-old resident of Minsk, who was previously sentenced to seven years in prison «for causing grievous bodily harm resulting in death.» His name has not been released.
According to reports from Belsat, several people on Pushkin Square have knelt in front of officers from the internal troops. The demonstrators are trying to persuade them to refrain from violence and asking them how much theyʼve been paid.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has called the joint appeal from European officials «unacceptable,» claiming they are prepared «to provide irrefutable evidence of foreign interference in the countryʼs affairs.»
Meduza special correspondent Maxim Solopov has been released from jail and handed over to Russian diplomats in Minsk.
«Daily Storm» publishes video of the arrest of disappeared «Meduza» special correspondent Maxim Solopov
Itʼs now been well over 36 hours since known contact with Meduza special correspondent Maxim Solopov, who was reportedly beaten and arrested while covering Sundayʼs protests in Belarus. Earlier today, his wife filed a missing personʼs report in Moscow.
About 500 people have gathered outside of the detention center on Okrestina Street in Minsk. Theyʼre trying to find out what happened to their friends and relatives who were arrested during the protests. Sputnik Belarus reports that snipers are watching them.
Veronika Tsepkalo (Veronika Tsapkala) — a member of Tikhanovskayaʼs campaign triumvirate — has published a video message to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. «I want to assure you that Valery Tsepkalo and I personally support you. We understand that Lukashenko lost the presidential elections on August 9 and the only legitimate president of the country is you, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya,» she says.
Note: Meduza initially mistranslated Tsepkaloʼs comments as «we understand that Lukashenko won the presidential election.» We apologize for the mistake.
In an interview with Radio Svaboda, Lithuaniaʼs Foreign Minister confirmed that Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is safe and with her children. According to him, the video where she announced her departure was filmed in Belarus, not Lithuania.
Dozens of people with white and red balloons, as well as posters, have gathered outside of the Belarusian Embassy in Moscow, as seen in this livestream from Ruptly. Police are using loudspeakers to ask the demonstrators not to block the sidewalk.
Riot police are checking peopleʼs bags in the area around the Pushkin Metro Station in Minsk. According to Nasha Niva, appeals emerged online today asking people not to gather there «so as not to provoke the security forces.» Law enforcement officers in the area are asking people not to gather in groups, reports Tut.by.
Outside of the Belarusian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, today.
Seven centrally located subway stations in Minsk have been shut down since 6:15 p.m. local time (this also happened yesterday).
Earlier in the day today, a man jumped on the tracks in the Minsk subway and blocked the way of a train. He was holding a sign that said «stop maiming and killing people.» The Minsk subwayʼs press service told RBK that he blocked the train for about five minutes until the stationʼs employees helped him off the tracks.
Riot police officers and the internal troops were deployed in downtown Minsk again today, accompanied by special transport vehicles. Their presence has been particularly noticeable in the area around Pushkin Square, where a protester died during the demonstrations last night. Protesters who came to lay flowers at the site were reportedly dispersed earlier in the day.
Law enforcement officers have already started to make arrests in this area, stopping anyone who they consider «suspicious.»
The protests that began in Belarus after the end of the presidential elections on August 9 are continuing for the third straight day today (Tuesday, August 11). Last night, we ended our live blog at 2:00 a.m. Minsk time, but at that point the clashes between law enforcement officers and demonstrators were still ongoing.
According to police officials, 2,000 were arrested during demonstrations across the country yesterday. While the number of wounded demonstrators remains unknown, there has been one officially reported fatality so far (a protester in Minsk allegedly tried to throw an «unidentified explosive device» at riot police officers. The device supposedly went off in his hands and killed him). Police officials reported 21 injuries among law enforcement officers.