MINSK, Belarus — In a present of would possibly, safety forces in Belarus on Saturday arrested tons of of ladies collaborating in a protest march in opposition to the re-election of the nation’s strongman, President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko.
Following a ruthless crackdown on the protests that adopted the presidential election in August, girls have emerged because the face of dissent in Belarus, a rustic of 9.5 million squeezed between Russia and the European Union. Usually holding flowers and sporting white shirts, Belarusian girls have come to represent the peaceable nature of protests and supply a stark distinction to the brutality of Mr. Lukashenko’s sturdy safety equipment.
“Ladies can do rather a lot, they will combat in opposition to a dictator,” stated Irina Ok. Palyukovich, an economist, who took half within the so-called Ladies’s March on Saturday. “Males can not do this not as a result of they’re weak, however they’re extra weak,” stated Ms. Palyukovich, 35. “They’re being overwhelmed extra usually.”
Ms. Palyukovich was certainly one of about 1,000 girls who marched from the central market sq. within the capital, Minsk, via the town.
Initially, the procession was largely unhindered by the police, with just a few officers filming the demonstration and a number of other undercover brokers following the march in vans. Then, a bunch of riot law enforcement officials sporting balaclavas briskly squeezed a big portion of protesters right into a entice in entrance of a shopping center.
A verbal confrontation ensued with girls shouting at law enforcement officials and chanting: “Solely a coward can beat a girl.” A few of the law enforcement officials, who didn’t establish themselves, responded by saying the protesters had been paid to return out by overseas governments, a typical theme put ahead by Mr. Lukashenko and state-run information shops in Belarus.
Many ladies have been visibly terrified as they have been confronted, blocked from all sides by heavyset, masked males. Not less than one lady was taken away in an ambulance after feeling sick and falling on the bottom. One after the other, law enforcement officials carried girls to police vans.
Greater than 300 girls have been detained total on Saturday, according to Viasna, a human rights group. By late night, many have been launched from police precincts, the place officers had taken their pictures and fingerprints.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Mr. Lukashenko’s essential rival within the August election, who fled Belarus under duress, condemned the detentions, which she described as “lawlessness.”
In a pre-emptive countermove forward of Saturday’s march, Mr. Lukashenko’s aides on Friday convened hundreds of pro-government girls at a live performance rally at a hockey stadium in Minsk.
Talking on the rally, Mr. Lukashenko denied that the current presidential election was rigged and that the police had used pressure in opposition to protesters. He accused E.U. members, most of all Poland and Lithuania, of fueling protests to create a pretext for navy intervention in Belarus.
“They’ve many tips of their arsenal and we’re on the verge of a horrible disaster,” Mr. Lukashenko stated, referring to his opponents.