According to an AFP reporter, the tens of thousands of people form a column of several kilometers in the center of the Belarusian capital and head to the Independence Palace, the residence of President Alexander Lukashenko. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that there are about a hundred thousand protesters.
According to the DPA, massive police devices are visible on the streets of Minsk, and protests are also taking place in other cities across the country.
Police are using barbed wire to close the capital’s central square, according to Al Jazeera.
This is the fifth consecutive weekend of protests against the re-election of Lukashenko following the August 9 presidential election, which the opposition considers fraudulent.
According to the human rights group Viasna, many of those recently arrested are women and there have been cases of violence during their detention. Leading figures in the Belarusian opposition are also women, including Svetlana Tikhanovskaia, President Alexander Lukashenko’s opponent in the August 9th presidential election and who took refuge in Lithuania after the election.
Another opponent, Maria Kolesnikova, who opposed the expulsion from the country, is jailed on charges of attempting to overthrow the government. Sunday’s protest, called the “Heroes’ March,” is trying to draw attention to its situation.
The Belarusians are protesting massively daily after the August 9th presidential election, which the opposition and major international organizations believe was neither free nor fair and were allegedly massively defrauded by Alexander Lukashenko.
Lukashenko, 66, has been in power since 1994. His term ends on November 15, and prominent opposition leaders have called on the European Union and the United States to consider Lukashenka an illegal leader after that date. On Monday, in Sochi, Lukashenko will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
President Alexander Lukashenko will meet with Vladimir Putin in Sochi on September 14 to discuss and promote the integration process of the Russia-Belarus Union and implement joint energy projects, the Kremlin’s press service said, according to Tass.
In recent years, Lukashenko has opposed Moscow’s desire for deep integration of Belarus into Putin’s plans for a Russia-Belarus Union.
Russia will send troops from its parachute division from Pskov to Belarus for joint military exercises starting Monday, Russia’s RIA news agency reported, citing Russia’s defense ministry.
The Glorious Brotherhood begins
Russia announced on Sunday that Belarus’s military maneuvers, called the “Slavic Brotherhood,” were scheduled to take place, although Serbia had refused to take part in them under Western pressure.
“These are anti-terrorist exercises and are not directed against any country,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement quoted by EFE. More than 800 Russian and Belarusian soldiers will take part in the exercises on September 14-25 in the Brezki military training ground in Belarus, Agerpres reports.
To prevent suspicions of a possible Russian military deployment in Belarus, Moscow said in a statement that Russian troops would return to their bases after the end of the “Slavic Brotherhood” military maneuvers.
This program of military applications has been running since 2015, and last year took place in Serbia. But now the country has given up participation due to “strong and undeserved pressure from the European Union,” Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said.
Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin on Friday announced the withdrawal of troops deployed in the Grodno region from the border with Poland and Lithuania, countries that Minsk accuses of instigating protests against Lukashenko. But he added that Belarus is concerned about the presence 15 kilometers from the border of an American battalion with about 30 tanks, 43 Bradley combat vehicles and about 500 soldiers.
US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said Russia risks losing the friendship of the Belarusian people if the Kremlin continues to support autocrat Alexander Lukashenko.