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Protests in Belarus: Lukashenka accuses opposition of trying to seize power

On Tuesday, the opposition coordinating council, created by supporters of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya to transfer power in the country, began its work in Belarus. Alexander Lukashenko, who, according to official figures, won the last presidential election, called the creation of the council an attempt to seize power and threatened with harsh measures. Writes about it with the BBC.

Photo: Shutterstock

At a press conference in Minsk, Tikhanovskaya's confidant Olga Kovalkova said that the members of the coordination council hope that Lukashenka's main rival in the elections will return to the country in the near future.

Tikhanovskaya, meanwhile, recorded another video message and conveyed the words of her husband, who is in jail, who has his birthday on Tuesday, August 18: “He asks you not to sit, but do everything to live in the country for life”.

Coordination Council

The Opposition Coordination Council was created on the initiative of Lukashenka's main rival in the elections, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. It included associates of Tikhanovskaya and other opposition candidates, as well as writers, human rights activists and lawyers. It was created to transfer power after the presidential elections, which the opposition did not recognize.

Lukashenko called the council an attempt to seize power and promised to take action against those who joined it. According to him, the authorities have "enough measures to cool some hotheads."

Olga Kovalkova, a confidant of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, said that the council does not set itself the goal of seizing power, but is created with the aim of "organizing the transfer of power and ensuring harmony in society." The first meeting of the council will take place on Thursday.

Protest actions

On Tuesday, August 18, the protests were smaller than in previous days. About 10 thousand people gathered on Independence Square in Minsk. More than 10 thousand people came to the meeting in Grodno.

Employees of large industrial enterprises in Minsk - MAZ, MTZ, MZKT - did not go to the rallies. MAZ workers could not leave the territory of the enterprise, they gathered in the courtyard of the enterprise, where the journalists were not allowed. According to one of the workers, about 200 people gathered.

On the subject: Hundreds of thousands took to the 'Freedom March' in Belarus: Lukashenko 'knelt'

Rallies in support of Lukashenka were held in Gomel and Mogilev. According to various estimates, 6-7 thousand people took part in the action in Mogilev. During the action, a helicopter with the national flag flew over the square.

Third dead

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus reported about a 19-year-old deceased participant of protests against the election results. According to official data, on the night of August 16 in Minsk, on Partizansky Prospekt, a Renault driver ran into a pedestrian who took part in the rally.

According to Euroradio, the name of the deceased resident of Minsk is Artem Porukov. Porukov's cousin said she knew nothing about his participation in the protests.

Immediately before the collision, the young man, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, was on the road.

“This was noticed by the Volkswagen driver and warned the pedestrian of the danger, also asking him to leave the road onto the sidewalk. However, the pedestrian ignored his words, and after a while fell under the wheels, - the message says.

The relatives of the deceased do not believe in the police version of death. “We think he was hit by a car while trying to escape from someone,” said the man's cousin.

Security awards

Lukashenka has awarded more than 300 employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs with medals "For impeccable service" of the first, second and third degrees. The document was published on August 18, but signed on August 13, that is, after the brutal suppression of the protests and the start of mass actions of solidarity with the victims at the hands of the security forces.

The Belarusian portal KYKY found that the list of awardees included three drivers of paddy wagons and nine employees of isolation wards.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that there would be no mass refusals of shoulder straps. The press secretary of the department published an appeal of the police officers to the residents of the country, which says that the department does not condemn "the desire of compatriots for positive and peaceful changes", but because of calls in telegram channels to resign the powers of the internal affairs bodies "an erroneous attitude is being formed" about the fact that “being a law enforcement officer is a shame and bad”.

“They expect from us a pretentious parting with certificates, joining the columns of protesters, public condemnation of colleagues and the authorities in general. This will not happen! ”- wrote the press secretary.

Diplomats quit

Belarusian Ambassador to Slovakia Igor Leshchenya submitted his resignation on Tuesday. A few days before that, he recorded a video message in which he supported the Belarusians who came out to peaceful protests.

“I did submit my resignation letter. This is a logical step, since, as an ambassador, I have been appointed by the incumbent president and it is assumed that I must pursue the policy determined by him. The Foreign Ministry believes that the civic position expressed in my statement has gone beyond this framework, ”Leshchenya said.

In his video message, the diplomat said: “Like all Belarusians, I am shocked by the stories of torture and beatings of citizens of my country. In one of the photographs of a mash of bruises and bruises, we identified a classmate of my daughter, who certainly was never listed as a troublemaker. "

In turn, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry confirmed the resignation of the head of the department for North America and Western Europe Andrei Bushilo. TASS, citing a source, reports that Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei is not going to resign. A rally of solidarity with diplomats is being held near the Belarusian Foreign Ministry.

Theater and media are on strike

The troupe of the Theater has joined the strikes. Yanka Kupala, whose director - Pavel Latushko - was fired the day before.

Minister of Culture Yuri Bondar arrived at the theater on Tuesday. About a hundred people with placards were waiting for him on the porch. The minister was greeted with shouts of "Shame".

On the subject: For the first time in history: Ukraine recalls ambassador from Belarus

Following the meeting with the minister, the artists said that they would give Bondar a day to restore the head of the theater to the Ministry of Culture, otherwise there would be no next theater season, the Belarusian service of Radio Liberty reports. Artists also demand the resignation of the minister.

The newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus” did not go on sale on Tuesday. According to the official version, they did not have time to print the number. It includes a reportage about a rally of many thousands of Lukashenka's opponents under the headline “Sunday March for Freedom has become the most massive rally in the history of Belarus”.

Negotiations between Putin and European leaders

Alexander Lukashenko said that on Sunday German Chancellor Angela Merkel called him to “talk”. "There was no such conversation between Merkel and Lukashenko after the elections," a German government official told Reuters.

As a result, on Tuesday, Merkel had a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, not with Lukashenko. The situation in Belarus after the elections was discussed, the Chancellor's press service reports. Merkel said that the Belarusian authorities should refrain from using force against peaceful demonstrators, immediately release political prisoners and start a dialogue with the opposition and society.

Putin, on the other hand, stated that attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of Belarus, "leading to a further escalation of the crisis," are unacceptable, the Kremlin reports. Later, Putin spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron. The Kremlin emphasizes that it was Macron who called Putin himself.

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