Live blog: Protesters in Belarus plan to block roadways
Recent events and what to expect:
- Belarus is witnessing its fourth day of mass protests, following Sunday’s presidential election. Since the weekend, police have arrested thousands of people in cities across the country. Most of the unrest has been in Minsk.
- President Alexander Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Lukashenka) has continued to insult demonstrators in public statements, while riot police have violently attacked protesters, sometimes even after they’ve been arrested.
- Large groups of women assembled in Minsk and other Belarusian cities and demanded an end to the government’s political repressions.
- Opposition groups have announced on Telegram a campaign to block major roadways.
The fourth day of protests, in brief
— On the fourth day of demonstrations, protesters planned to start blocking roadways, or so opposition Telegram channels announced. In reality, this didnʼt actually happen: either protesters didnʼt get the memo or they were simply afraid. Instead, drivers in Minsk drove very slowly and braked often, causing a minor traffic jam, but not city-wide road closures. Some protesters also tried to block pedestrian crossings in Minsk, but this didnʼt last long.
— Once again, the protests in Minsk were localized in different neighborhoods: people took to the streets near their homes, stood off to the side of the road, and applauded. Compared to previous days there were very few arrests.
— There were hardly any road closures in other Belarusian cities either — only the road to Grodno was blocked briefly.
— During the day, womenʼs rallies took place in cities across the country — the participants wore white and formed human chains in solidarity with protesters injured by police.
— Throughout the day videos surfaced online of military personnel and police officers (including one on active duty), who urged their colleagues to stop using force against the protesters; they threw their uniforms in the trash and burned their documents. The videos appeared on opposition Telegram channels; the individuals in them have yet to be identified.
— Several Belarusian TV presenters announced their resignations today. Some, more explicitly than others, said they were resigning due to the violence against protesters.
Anesthesiologist Bogdan Shilnikvosky, who participated in todayʼs protest outside of the medical school on Dzerzhinsky Avenue in Minsk, has been arrested. His friend described his arrest to TUT.by as follows:
«We were getting ready to leave by car. Bogdan asked to stop to say goodbye to the guys. He got out of the car, and went up to our colleagues and theirs cars. At this point a minibus and car pulled out in front of us. People in civilian clothes and masks ran out of it. The guys were laid face down on the ground. They used batons. Then they came over to me and asked who I was waiting for and if I knew anyone. I said I knew [sic], they pulled me from the car, dragged me away, and laid me down next to [the others]. I couldnʼt see what happened next. They searched the car. When they let me get up, Bogdan was gone. His colleagues [told me] they took him away, saying that he was the organizer of all of this.»
Earlier, Belarusian Health Ministry Vladimir Karanik, who came to the rally, said that it was «clearly an orchestrated event.»
Hereʼs what Belarusian state TV is saying about the demonstrations
1. They would be worse if riot police werenʼt doing their jobs
2. If the protests continue, «we will lose our normal lives»
Police officials in Belarus have arrested two men in Minsk who were allegedly making Molotov cocktails «to use against law enforcement officers at mass events.»
Typical scenes from Minsk tonight.
Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich warns of civil war:
Belarusian author and Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich has called on President Lukashenko to resign from office. «Get out before itʼs too late! Before you throw people into a terrible abyss — the abyss of civil war! Get out!» she said in an interview with the U.S. public broadcaster Radio Freedom.
All gone. A clean-up crew in Moscow has cleared all the flowers, candles, and cards left outside the Belarusian embassy to honor anti-government protesters. In Minsk, city workers did the same thing at memorial sites erected where a demonstrator was killed earlier this week.
For some reason, police officers in Moscow decided to trample the flowers and candles left outside the Belarusian embassy in support of protesters against Alexander Lukashenko.
The opposition Telegram channel NEXTA Live has published a video from a police officer who identifies himself as Ivan Kolos, where he calls on his colleagues to cease all violence against protesters and «return power to the people.» Records show that there is a police officer by this name who serves in the city of Gomel.
10-p.m. (Minsk time) update
- Earlier in the day, opposition protesters announced plans to block major roadways throughout the country, but protesters have failed to do this, so far. Police officers quickly arrest any demonstrators who walk into road intersections. For the most part, protesters in the capital have assembled along roads but not in the street. The same has been true in other cities.
- The police fired at the windows of private residences in Minsk. In at least one case, someone threw a stone or a piece of concrete at an officer.
- In two separate incidents, motorists tried to ram police officers. The driver in Minsk was arrested but the man behind the wheel in Baranovichi escaped. No officers were killed.
- Several TV news anchors have resigned from state television networks in protest.
According to the Belarusian Interior Ministry, someone in the city of Baranovichi tried to ram a police officer with a car. The authorities stopped the vehicle, but the driver managed to escape.
Using pump-action firearms, Belarusian riot police have started shooting non-lethal ammunition at people cheering protesters from their balconies. Journalists previously reported that police officers fired stun grenades and rubber bullets at residences along the routes of some demonstrations.
Todayʼs solidarity protests in Moscow
Protests in the Belarusian regions
Todayʼs protests throughout Minsk
Aeradromnaja Street, on the Second Right Road
Matusieviča Street (Western Minsk)
Angarskaya Street, on the eastern outskirts
Lošyca District (Southern Minsk)
Moscow police are arresting protesters demonstrating in support of the Belarusian opposition.
Outside the Belarusian Embassy in Moscow, right now.
Police officials have dismissed reports about the shooting a traffic cop in Minsk as fake
An estimated 500 protesters have gathered at Pushkin Square. Passing cars are driving by slowly to prevent police vans from getting close to the demonstrations.
The doctors» rally outside of the medical school on Dzerzhinsky Avenue has ended. The protesters signed off by saying «See you tomorrow!»
A womenʼs rally is taking place on Victory Square in the very center of Minsk. Tut.by says there have been no arrests so far.
Minsk right now.
The Belarusian IT sector has published an open letter with more 300 signatures and the following demands:
1. End the violence against civilians and the «atmosphere of fear» on the streets.
2. Release all political prisoners and detainees.
3. Hold new presidential elections.
4. Provide Belarusian citizens with free access to information.
In different parts of Minsk, protesters are blocking crosswalks and stopping cars from getting through. Judging by Yandex Maps, thereʼs already a small traffic jam on Dzerzhinsky Avenue.
Video footage of protesters fighting off riot police in Grodno.
The relatives of arrested protesters are still gathering outside of the Isolation Center for Offenders in Minsk. They shouted «Shame!» at a jeep leaving the detention center. One woman warned protesters «not to shout, when you shout they beat the guys [in there],» Belsat reports. According to the relatives of the detainees, conditions inside the center are poor: «When they asked to wash themselves, they [the guards] poured two buckets of water on the floor and said „Wash yourself“.»
The Joan of Arc statue in Paris today.
Riot police have left the site of the demonstrations outside of Pushkin Metro Station in Minsk. Protesters are applauding, reports Belsat.
An estimated 1,000 protesters gathered outside of the Belarusian Embassy in Riga today, shouting «Freedom for Belarus!» and carrying signs saying «Lukashenko, leave!,» «Belarusian lives matter,» and «Hands off Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.»
Protesters have started blocking roadways in Minsk: drivers have suddenly started deliberately moving very slowly to create a traffic jam. The video below shows this taking place near the Pushkin Subway Station.
Earlier today, people gathered outside of a detention center in Minsk walked around to the back of the building, where they began urging detainees to «hang in there» after hearing screams, Mediazona reports.
An arrested protester has reportedly died following their trial in the city of Gomel. According to Onliner, the cause of death is not related to the personʼs detention.
According to reports from Telegram channels, protesters are planning to begin blocking roadways at 7:00 p.m. local time.
Doctors in Minsk have also announced plans to join the protesters, TUT.by reports. More than 130 healthcare workers have already gathered near the medical school on Dzerzhinsky Avenue (as seen in the video below).
Welcome to day four of our live blog covering the opposition demonstrations following the contested presidential elections in Belarus. Today, the protests started early — women dressed in white began taking to the streets and forming solidarity chains in support of demonstrators injured by police.
By evening, protesters had started to gather in the streets of Minsk, as well as in other regions. They were detained immediately.