Lukashenko still in power, re­wards se­cu­rity forces as protests con­tinue

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE - -REUTERS

MINSK: Alexan­der Lukashenko, the leader of Be­larus, on Tues­day awarded medals "for im­pec­ca­ble ser­vice" to law en­force­ment of­fi­cials who have helped him crack down on pro­test­ers who have been de­mand­ing he step down for the last 10 days. an ef­fort to clamp down on strike ac­tion that has hit some of the coun­try's most im­por­tant fac­to­ries, the govern­ment also is­sued a mis­sive to man­agers of state-run plants telling them to en­sure work­ers ful­fil their du­ties or be dis­ci­plined.

Lukashenko, in power for the last 26 years, is un­der pres­sure, with no sign to an end of protests and strikes against what pro­test­ers say was a rigged Aug. 9 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion that he says he won.

At least two pro­test­ers were killed and thou­sands de­tained in the post-elec­tion crack­down. The op­po­si­tion says op­po­si­tion politi­cian Svi­at­lana Tsikhanous­kaya was the right­ful win­ner and wants new elec­tions. The Euro­pean Union is gear­ing up to im­pose new sanc­tions on Minsk over its crack­down. Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel told Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin on Tues­day that Ber­lin wanted the Be­laru­sian govern­ment to re­frain from vi­o­lence, re­lease po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers, and start talks with the op­po­si­tion.

Putin, the Krem­lin said, told Merkel that any ex­ter­nal at­tempt to in­ter­vene in the do­mes­tic af­fairs of Be­larus would be un­ac­cept­able. Rus­sia, a tra­di­tional ally of Minsk, is watch­ing closely as Be­larus hosts pipe­lines that carry Rus­sian en­ergy ex­ports to the West and is viewed by Moscow as a buf­fer zone against NATO.

Hun­dreds of pro­test­ers chant­ing "shame" gath­ered at a theatre in Minsk on Tues­day in sol­i­dar­ity with its di­rec­tor, who was fired for speak­ing out in sup­port of the op­po­si­tion. They will later con­verge on a prison where the hus­band of ex­iled op­po­si­tion leader Tsikhanous­kaya has been de­tained since the end of May. He was plan­ning to run against Lukashenko in the elec­tion. His wife took his place in­stead.

Lukashenko is bat­tling to con­tain the big­gest chal­lenge yet to his grip on power, as protests over his han­dling of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, the elec­tion, and other griev­ances spi­ral into a re­volt among swaths of so­ci­ety.

Many de­tained pro­test­ers have com­plained of pun­ish­ment beat­ings, cramped con­di­tions and star­va­tion rations. The Euro­pean Union is con­sid­er­ing im­pos­ing sanc­tions on Be­laru­sian in­di­vid­u­als linked to vi­o­lence and elec­tion fraud, Span­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Aran­cha Gon­za­lez Laya said on Tues­day. EU lead­ers will dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion in Be­larus on Wed­nes­day, she said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.