Two opposition leaders arrested in Belarus following mass protests
Monday, 24 August 2020
Belarusian riot police arrested two leaders of the pro-democracy movement, Olga Kovalkova and Sergei Dilevsky, the opposition says on Monday.
The authorities confirmed the arrest. While the motive is not yet clear, it could relate to the unauthorised mass demonstration in Minsk on Sunday, the opposition said.
Last week, Belarusian authorities took legal action against the coordinating committee to which the two opponents belong. President Alexander Lukashenko had threatened “to cool down some hotheads.” The members of the committee want to start a dialogue with the regime in Minsk, to no avail for the time being.
The opposition considers that its leading figure, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, now a refugee in Lithuania, won the elections at the beginning of the month. Lukashenko officially won 80% of the vote. The opposition has formed the “Coordination Council” to organise a political transition at the head of his country.
For more than two weeks, Belarusians have been protesting massively and peacefully against these elections. On Sunday, according to estimates by the independent media, there were more than 200,000 people in the streets of Minsk, while the Interior Ministry estimates that there were a maximum of 20,000 participants.
At a meeting for the start of the new school year, Lukashenko said that all teachers who did not support him would be dismissed, according to the state news agency Belta. In recent weeks, several teachers, as well as members of the security services and officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have turned away from the president.