Vatican News
Women parade through the streets of Minsk to protest contested presidential election results Women parade through the streets of Minsk to protest contested presidential election results 

Belarus detains dozens of pro-democracy protesters

With a top Vatican official in Minsk to show support to the Church there, reports have emerged that Belarusian authorities detained dozens of pro-democracy protesters following a month of rallies against President Alexander Lukashenko who has been accused of rigging the presidential election.

By Stefan J. Bos 

The European Union expressed concern and requested an urgent debate on what it views as the deterioration in Belarus's situation. It wants to raise the issue at the top United Nations rights body next week. Brussels is aiming for economic sanctions.

Western countries agree with protestors that Belarus President  Lukashenko rigged the August 9 election. 

In recent weeks Police have been seen beating and even shooting at protestors. 

At least four people were killed and hundreds injured in more than a month of protests against Lukashenko. Over 7,000 people were detained in recent weeks. 

Many released from prisons showed signs of torture on their bodies. Since Friday, Belarus's security forces took crores of protestors into custody in a new wave of arrests to end the pro-democracy rallies. 

Lukashenko's warning 

Earlier, President Lukashenko, who was walking around with a Kalashnikov rifle, had a warning to protestors. "If you are going against our country. Or even in the smallest way, try to plunge the country into chaos and destabilize it, you will an immediate response from me," he shouted.      

Facing criticism from the West, Lukashenko tries to improve ties with his main ally and sponsor, Russia. He is to visit Russia on Monday for talks with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi's Black Sea resort. 

Some expect Belarusian authorities to take harsh actions against demonstrators ahead of the meeting. Russian President Putin has already said special police forces are ready to help end "violent" rallies in Belarus. 

Despite these threats and expulsions of opposition leaders from the country, more massive protests are expected.

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos

 

12 September 2020, 18:10