After weeks of relative calm, Belarus intensifies repression

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After several weeks of relative calm, mass arrests return in Belarus. The Ministry of the Interior has reported this Monday of the arrest of 600 people during last Sunday’s protest against the president Aleksándr Lukashenko, an event in which the opposition managed to rally some 100,000 protesters. Also, Maria Kolésnikova, the only one of the three women from the opposition leadership who was still in Belarusian territory, has been detained by unknown that they put her in a car in the morning; from that moment on, her mobile has stopped responding to phone calls.

“It is clear that such (detention) methods are illegal and cannot lead to no other result that to the aggravation of the situation “, has denounced the Belarusian opposition council. The regime resorts to a policy of “terror”, but “you are wrong if you think that this is going to stop us; the more they intimidate us, the more people will take to the streets,” the opposition leader warned. Svetlana Tikhonóvskaya.

Although the repression has not returned to the levels of the first days after the presidential election August rated as “fraudulent” by the opposition, days in which some 7,000 people, many of whom reported having suffered beatings and mistreatment, it is true that observers have observed a more aggressive attitude of the security forces regarding the protesters on Sunday than in previous weeks. In addition, groups of plainclothes agents with their heads covered by a hood and armed with a hood making arrests, a novelty compared to previous days.

Forcing the opposition into exile

With the main opposition figures, the Belarusian authorities seem more interested in forcing them to embark on the path of exile, rather than condemning them to long prison terms that would lead to new waves of international outrage. After spending several days in detention, Olga Kovalkova, a member of the opposition committee and the architect of the strikes in public heavy machinery companies that made Lukashenko stagger in mid-August, has had to take refuge in Poland. According to his version released in Warsaw, he was taken in a car to the border and forced to cross it “as before to Svetlana Tikhonóvskaya“.

The arrest in the last hours of Maria Kolesnikova could have a similar ending to that of Kovalkova. However, unlike Veronica Tsepkalo and Svetlana Tikhonóvskaya, who left their country due to threats that even affected their family environment, are not married or have children, which means that the security forces have less room for pressure.

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