new tensions in Minsk, about thirty arrests

New clashes between Belarusian authorities and protesters protesting against the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk for the second night in a row in Minsk were arrested and about 30 people were arrested.

Tensions have risen again in Belarus. Police in Minsk clash for the second night in a row in Minsk, protesting against the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko on Monday (August 10). A witness interviewed by AFP reported the firing of rubber bullets and the use of gas in the center of the capital, where there was a large police force.

According to this witness and Belarusian media, at least one journalist was injured in the leg. About thirty people were arrested. Arrests were also held in other cities in the former Soviet republic, according to local media. The crowd, smaller than on Sunday night during previous protests, shouted “Shame!” and “Long Belarus”, according to an AFP journalist.

Alexander Lukashenko was elected to power since 1994 with more than 80 percent of the vote, officials in the former Soviet republic said. Its main opponent, Svetlana Tikhanouskaïa, rejected the official results and asked the president to relinquish power.

“Power must think about how to relinquish power to us. I consider myself the winner,” said the 37-year-old opponent, to whom the Electoral Commission allocated about 10% of the vote.

If she accuses the regime of “maintaining itself by force” after the repression of the demonstrations night to Sunday to Monday, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya will not take part in any new protests, while talks to this effect are circulating online. “She will not participate (…) because the authorities could organize a provocation to stop her,” said the candidate’s spokeswoman, Anna Krassoulina.

Paris calls on authorities to “exercise the utmost restraint”

The previous night, thousands of protesters came under fire with stun grenades and rubber bullets from the Minsk police, injuring dozens.

Faced with calls to demonstrate, Monday night, broadcast on social networks and despite limited access to the Internet since Sunday, police closed the center of Minsk, especially around the Stela Monument, the epicenter of the violence the day before. Subway stations were closed, and rebel forces were present in large numbers.

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France called on the Belarusian authorities on Monday for “the greatest restraint” following the violent repression of the opposition on Sunday night. “We note with concern the violence that has been perpetrated against Belarusian citizens who left to demonstrate after the closure of the polling stations and demand the utmost restraint,” said a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry.

The White House also said it was “strongly concerned” by the re-election and called on the government to “respect the right to assemble peacefully and to refrain from using force”. Similarly, Britain has also called on the Belarussian government to “refrain from further violence” following the presidential election, in which it condemns “serious irregularities”.

At the same time, Russia welcomed the re-election of Alexander Loukachenko, as well as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who congratulated the head of state and recognized him as an “undeniable victory”.

With AFP and Reuters