Belarus: opposition launches strike to weaken power

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Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on Monday announced the start of a strike movement to push President Alexander Lukashenko to leave, the day after another big protest against power in Minsk.

As early as this morning, employees of public companies and factories, the transport sector, miners, teachers and students began to strike., she said on Telegram messaging.

She urged her countrymen to show that no one will work for the regime by Alexander Lukashenko.

The strike in public enterprises is a lever of economic pressure. And that in the private sector is a sign of everyone's solidarity, it is just as important.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa, leader of the opposition

A leading figure in the opposition, exiled in Lithuania, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, 38, this month issued an ultimatum to Lukashenko, giving him until Sunday to withdraw, failing which she would call for a strike general.

While the Belarusian state still controls a large part of the economy, previous strikes at iconic factories did not last, however, amid intimidation from the authorities and threats of layoffs.

A person makes the V for victory behind a barrier separating them from the demonstrators.

A factory worker makes a victory V for teachers and students of Belarusian State University who walk out.

Photo: Getty Images / AFP / Freelance

On Monday morning, dozens of students gathered in front of universities, forming sit-ins, human chains or marching in the streets.

Videos shared by opposition media also showed rallies dispersed by police. According to the NGO Viasna, more than 100 people had been arrested at midday, especially in Minsk.

The independent media Tut.by published images of dozens of workers carrying out walkouts or solidarity actions in at least four large public factories, including the Grodnoazot chemical plant in western Belarus.

It's hard to know how far people will go because of the great pressure from the authorities, told AFP Alexander Yarochouk, head of the Belarusian Confederation of Democratic Trade Unions, specifying that he had not called for a strike.

Aerial view of a crowd sweeping through a street

Several thousand people marched in Minsk on Sunday to once again demand the departure of President Lukashenko.

Photo: Reuters / BelaPAN

A government spokeswoman for her part said on Facebook that businesses in the country were operating normally.

In Minsk, a march of retirees against power was announced starting at 2 p.m. local time. Students have been called to join.

Some of our employees have joined the strike, argues Natalia Bezroukova, 54, a striker of a public construction firm interviewed by AFP in the center of Minsk.

Next to her, participating in a human chain of about fifteen people, Elena Velichko, 43, an entrepreneur, also decided not to work. I am ready to do many things to get our right to vote back.

The Belarusian opposition demands the departure of Mr. Lukashenko, 66, in power since 1994, after the presidential election deemed fraudulent on August 9. The protest movement has since come under constant pressure from the authorities.

Two people are taken away by police.

Sunday's protest resulted in further arrests. Thousands of people have been arrested by the government since the presidential election.

Photo: Getty Images / AFP / Freelance

On Sunday, a new demonstration brought together more than 100,000 people in the capital. Stun grenades were used by law enforcement to disperse the crowd.

A total of 523 people were arrested that day on the sidelines of protests across the country, according to the Interior Ministry.

After carrying out a brutal crackdown in the days after the election, authorities warned this month they would fire live ammunition if necessary. This did not prevent new gatherings.

President Lukashenko has shown no intention to bow to his detractors.

If it enjoys the support of Moscow, it is under threat of sanctions from the European Union, which has rejected the presidential results and has already sanctioned 40 regime officials.

Also read:

  • The 2020 Sakharov Prize awarded to the opposition in Belarus
  • Minister Champagne meets with Belarusian opposition leader in exile
  • Belarus: "We no longer have the right to give up our freedom"


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