KYIV/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Belarusian police used stun grenades towards protesters on Sunday as tens of 1000’s of individuals headed in the direction of Independence Palace within the capital Minsk demanding that President Alexander Lukashenko resign.
Protesters carrying the red-and-white flags of the Belarusian opposition motion scattered as loud bangs and flashes lit up town’s streets after dusk, movies confirmed.
The police motion got here hours earlier than the expiration of an ultimatum set by the opposition: Lukashenko should resign by midnight or face a nationwide strike.
Explosions and white smoke stuffed residential areas as folks hid behind autos and ran from police, the movies, shared on-line by respected information organisations, confirmed. Regulation enforcement confirmed that riot management weapons had been used and detentions had taken place, the TASS and RIA information businesses reported.
The movies couldn’t be instantly verified by Reuters.
Earlier on Sunday, crowds streamed by the capital shouting “strike”, waving flags and beating drums on the 11th straight weekend of mass protests since a disputed election plunged the nation into turmoil.
Twelve metro stations have been closed, helmeted riot police patrolled the streets and cellular web providers have been disrupted in Minsk. Two journalists have been detained forward of the protest, a neighborhood journalists’ affiliation mentioned.
Tens of individuals have been detained and safety forces used tear gasoline within the western city of Lida, the Russian information company RIA quoted the regional department of the inside ministry as saying.
A former Soviet collective farm supervisor, Lukashenko has dominated Belarus for greater than 1 / 4 of a century and has proven little inclination to give up, buoyed by loans and the provide of navy assist from conventional ally Russia.
The president’s essential opponents have been jailed or fled into exile following the Aug. 9 election, which Lukashenko’s opponents accuse him of rigging to win a sixth straight time period. He denies electoral fraud.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, his essential electoral challenger, has led calls from exile for a nationwide strike to start on Monday if Lukashenko refuses to launch all political prisoners and resign to make manner for a brand new election.
“As we speak at 23:59 the time period of the Individuals’s Ultimatum will expire, and if the calls for should not met, the Belarusians will begin a nationwide strike,” she mentioned in assertion.
Lukashenko has signalled that he would ignore the ultimatum.
America, the European Union, Britain and Canada have imposed sanctions towards a string of senior officers in Belarus accused of fraud and human rights abuses within the wake of the presidential election.
Lukashenko has accused Western international locations of meddling within the inner affairs of Belarus and making an attempt to instigate a violent rebellion towards him.
In a name with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday, he mentioned Belarus and Russia have been prepared to reply collectively to exterior threats, Belarusian state tv reported.
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