BELARUSALERT – DAY 15
Date: 24 August 2020
A record demonstration, scared Lukashenko
On a symbolic day – the anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Minsk hosted the largest demonstration in the history of independent Belarus. On August 23, over 100,000 people took to the streets of the capital. On that day, the demonstrations took place also in many other cities. The March of Free Belarus took place in a tense atmosphere. Already a few days earlier, Lukashenko threatened that a revolution supported by NATO interveners is attempted. On that day, he brought large forces of militia, Special Purpose Mobile Units (OMON) and spetsnaz to Minsk. Furthermore, a significant number of people in military uniforms, yet without any markings, appeared. Immediately, there was an assumption that it was the support from Russia, the proverbial “little green men”. Their presence, information about the arrival of Russian officers to Minsk as well as the statement by the head of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Sergey Lavrov, that the leaders of the Belarusian opposition were seeking bloodshed, all indicated Moscow’s support for Lukashenko. At least at this stage of the crisis. Lukashenko is becoming a “hostage” of Russia. Without its support, he will collapse quickly – and he probably realizes that. Hence the astonishing “show” performed by the dictator at the time when the people on the streets of Belarus called for him to step down. Lukashenko flew to the presidential palace by a helicopter when the demonstration was slowly ending. He was wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a machine gun (without a magazine), being accompanied by his teenage son armed to the teeth. Demonstrations ended without any clashes with the law enforcement. The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that no one was detained. Lukashenko announced his victory, although in fact it was his opponents who won through the huge and peaceful mobilization, without yielding to the provocations of the forces. The longer the crisis lasts and the greater Russia’s involvement is, the more active other foreign players become. The President of Ukraine stated that if Lukashenko does not want to resign, he should organize a second election with the presence of international observers within a month. The EU does not recognize the results of August 9 election whilst a meeting between Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and the US Deputy Secretary of State – Stephen Biegun was announced for August 24.
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