Belarus protesters incited to change tact for third night of rallies

World

12 August 2020, 01:01

Protesters in Minsk have been called upon to scaled-down rallies in the third night of unrest following Sunday’s disputed presidential elections, marking a change in strategy.

Demonstrators were asked to gather in “small groups of up to 20 people” in a message on Belarus-based online media Nexta’s encrypted Telegram channel.

The online organisation, which is not state-run, has over 1.3 million subscribers on the platform.

“Be like water”, the message added — using a famous quote from martial arts star Bruce Lee that became a slogan of Hong Kong protestors.

The tactic saw protesters in the territory coming together quickly and dispersing throughout the city.

Violent demonstrations in the wake of Sunday’s election have left one person dead, an interior ministry spokeswoman said on Monday.

Dozens of people were injured, while 3,000 more were detained in the two previous nights — 1,000 in the capital Minsk.

A witness in central Minsk told Euronews they “haven’t heard the usual explosions” that rang out during the two previous nights of demonstrations, but added they believed the demonstrations had moved to the city’s periphery.

Police officers were seen using flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets to push back thousands of protesters who flooded the streets across the country for a second consecutive day on Monday.

Nexta describes itself as a decentralised media and is present on several messaging platforms, as well as YouTube.

It has become a key source of information for many as reports said internet service had been “significantly disrupted” in the country since Sunday’s elections.

Online monitor NetBlocks said that internet connectivity in Belarus had been significantly disrupted as of Sunday 9 August 2020 amid tense presidential elections — an incident that the observatory said was ongoing as of Tuesday afternoon.

Belarus’ leading opposition candidate said she had fled her country for Lithuania for her own wellbeing and for that of her children in the wake of the elections.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said she made the decision “absolutely independently” to leave adding the current situation in Belarus was “not worth any life,” referencing the violent protests.

The EUs foreign minister on Tuesday slammed the violence against protesters, calling the elections neither free nor fair.

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