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

On Sunday, August 16, the largest political protest action in the history of Belarus took place in Minsk - hundreds of thousands of people came out under white-red-white flags. Writes about it with the BBC.

Photo: Shutterstock

The action was peaceful, the security forces, who were in the city center with water cannons, did not interfere with the passage of the columns.

The stele “Minsk - Hero City” became the center of the protest.

The “Freedom March”, as the opposition called its action, took place immediately after the rally in support of President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko.

How many people were there?

It is impossible to accurately count the number of Belarusians who took part in the “March of Freedom”.

However, even purely by visual estimates, we are talking about the largest political action in the history of Belarus.

“There has never been such a crowd in Minsk - such a crowd, such a mood, such a unity of the people - even on big holidays like the New Year and May 9,” a BBC correspondent reports from the Belarusian capital.

“And all this is spontaneous, no one is leading the people anywhere, people just took to the streets en masse,” the journalist adds.

“People willingly talked to us, parted, let us in, let themselves be filmed. In contrast to the pro-government rally, where the participants covered us with posters and refused to give interviews. There was no spirit of celebration and celebration at Lukashenka's rally, ”the correspondent continues.

The opposition website tried to count the number of people at both Minsk rallies using the MapChecking resource: there you can outline a zone and algorithms, determine the approximate area and the number of people who could fit there.

According to these calculations, the rally in Independence Square in support of Lukashenka gathered 31 people.

The Interior Ministry estimated its number at 65, and the official agency Belta wrote about 000 Lukashenka's supporters.

At the same time, about 220 people gathered at the “Minsk - Hero City” stele, according to estimates.

The editors warn that the service does not make the final calculations, because no method for assessing public events provides accurate data.

What was required

The people who gathered for the Freedom March demanded the release of all political prisoners, the resignation of President Lukashenko and the holding of fair elections.

Whole families came to the action at the stele, despite the fact that it was not formally agreed with the authorities.

There was also a column of veterans of the Airborne Forces in the form of paratroopers with a poster "Airborne Forces with the People."

On the subject: 'Finances objectionable to the state': activist collected $ 2 million for victims in Belarus

People were holding posters with the words “You don’t understand - you are fired!”, “The Hague is waiting for you” and “Akrestsin Street. Do not forget ”(talking about the detention center in Minsk, where hundreds of detained protesters were held and are being held).

Many protesters carried white-red-white flags (historically the national flag of Belarus) and symbols with the unofficial emblem “Pursuit” - symbols that were official in Belarus from 1991 to 1995 and were canceled by a referendum initiated by Alexander Lukashenko.

Opposition rallies on Sunday, August 16, were held in many other cities of Belarus.

In some of them, for example, in Gomel and Baranovichi, white-red-white flags were raised next to the official red-green ones.

A rally in support of Lukashenka was held before the Freedom March, where he first met with his supporters in Minsk.

How was the rally in support of Lukashenka

His half-hour speech was extremely emotional - Belarusian journalists say that they do not remember such expressions of emotion from the long-term president of Belarus.

And in the end, he even, in his words, “knelt down”: “For the first time in my life, I am kneeling before you. You deserve it!". Although, in fact, he did not kneel.

I did not forget to mention Lukashenka and the accusations of electoral fraud.

“There cannot be more than 80% of falsifications! It can't be, ”Alexander Lukashenko answered.

The Belarusian CEC announced the official results of the elections - according to them, Alexander Lukashenko received 80% of the votes, his opponent Svetlana Tikhanovska - 10%.

“Let's go to the polls - we will die, and they want it abroad!” - he spoke out against re-elections.

Traditionally, Alexander Lukashenko spoke about external threats. This time there were no “neighbors from Russia” - it was only about NATO.

On the subject: 'Goodbye to life, you will be killed': how detained protesters are bullied in Belarus

“Someone wants new elections. Look out the window! NATO troops clink their tracks at our borders. Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine instruct us to hold new elections, ”Lukashenka complained.

“We must not become a latrine for Europe! He shouted. - We do not need overseas governments, we need ours. We are offered a new power, we are offered NATO soldiers, blacks, yellow-mouthed and blond. They want to dress us in sandals and drive us with a whip. "

“They will not give us a calm life, even if they calm down now, they will crawl out like rats from their holes. They are run by strangers. They see the western borders of our Belarus here near Minsk, as in 1939, and not near Brest. We will all stand up as a Brest fortress, we will not surrender the country, ”Lukashenka assured.

“Belarus will not be destroyed by Lukashenka, if you lose the first president - this will be the beginning of your end - you will be on your knees, as in Ukraine and other countries, and pray, no one knows who,” he addressed his supporters.

“I remember how in the nineties, people stood here with pots and kettles and asked for food, and I saw it all. And then I swore to help you and prevent Maidans from entering the fate of Belarusians. I am not a supporter of rallies. But, unfortunately, it is not my fault that I had to call you for help, ”the Belarusian leader apologized.

Lukashenka recalled how in the early nineties “instead of an empire, without which no issue could be resolved, we received a bloody stump.”

“Thank you, people of Minsk, for the fact that you have endured me for a quarter of a century - a person who came to you from the provinces! I didn't call you here to protect me, although not without it. You came here so that for the first time in a quarter of a century you could defend your country, your independence, your wives, sisters and children, ”Lukashenka added.

Read also on ForumDaily:

'Finances objectionable to the state': activist collected $ 2 million for victims in Belarus

'Goodbye to life, you will be killed': how detained protesters are bullied in Belarus

Protests in Belarus: 7 thousand detainees, female human chains, support from the US diaspora

Protests in Belarus continue: EU and US plan to impose new sanctions against Minsk

Miscellaneous Belarus protest At home
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