Demonstrators Rally In Belarus Demanding Lukashenka Step Down

Demonstrators marched in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on December 20, calling on strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka to step down.

Belarus has been roiled by nearly daily protests since early August when Lukashenka was declared victor of a presidential election that opposition leaders said was flawed.

Crisis In Belarus

Read our coverage as Belarusians take to the streets to demand the resignation of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and call for new elections after official results from the August 9 presidential poll gave Lukashenka a landslide victory.

Police have violently cracked down on the postelection protests, with more than 27,000 detentions, according to the United Nations. There have also been credible reports of torture and ill-treatment, and several people have died.

Many of Belarus’s opposition leaders have been arrested or forced to leave the country, while Lukashenka, who has ruled the country with an iron fist for almost three decades, has refused to negotiate with the opposition.

The United States, the European Union, and several other countries have refused to acknowledge Lukashenka as the winner of the vote, and imposed sanctions on Lukashenka and his allies, citing election rigging and the police crackdown.

Crowd numbers at protests in Minsk and elsewhere have dropped amid fatigue, repression, and the cold weather. Protests organizers have also switched tactics, calling for smaller gatherings to evade arrest and stretch the riot police.

On December 20, small marches were reported in several districts of Minsk, according to RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, with many carrying the opposition’s red-and-white flag or banners.

So far, there have been no reports of demonstrators being detained by riot police.

Small marches and rallies were also reported on December 19 in Minsk and elsewhere, including the western city of Hrodna.

This post was originally published on Radio Free.