Belarus police will fire on protesters if necessary, says deputy interior minister | Belarus

Security forces in Belarus could fire on protesters if they deem it necessary, a minister has warned, as EU foreign ministers agreed to impose sanctions personally targeting President Alexander Lukashenko.

Gennady Kazakevich, the first deputy interior minister, said in a video statement: “We will not leave the streets, and law enforcement officers and internal troops if necessary will use riot control equipment and lethal weapons.”

The statement was the first time the authorities have explicitly threatened to use firearms against opposition demonstrators and would mark a major escalation in the two-month standoff between Lukashenko and protesters, who have staged peaceful rallies against his disputed re-election in August and against the abuse and torture of detainees.

The warning came after security forces cracked down harshly on anti-Lukashenko protests on Sunday, prompting EU foreign ministers to agree it was time to sanction Lukashenko himself.

Late on Monday, officers used tear gas and stun grenades against a group of older people holding a regular protest march, prompting outrage from the opposition.

The protests broke out when Lukashenko claimed victory in elections held on 9 August that are widely regarded as rigged. Popular opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who claims to be the true winner, has been based in Lithuania since she was forced to flee after being threatened in a conversation with officials the night after the election.

In Belarus, police have so far acknowledged using water cannon, rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the protesters.

Kazakevich claimed that protests had become “extremely radical”, saying stones and bottles were thrown at police on Sunday by protesters armed with knives, who built barricades and set fire to tyres. “This has nothing in common with civil protest,” the deputy minister said, claiming that “groups of fighters, radicals, anarchists and football fans” were taking part.

Belarus was facing attempts to revive the “chaos of the 1990s” and foment the “colour revolutions” that have toppled pro-Kremlin leaders in other ex-Soviet states, he said.

His statement came as police have used some of the harshest tactics yet against protesters.

On Monday, men in balaclavas carrying batons confronted a crowd of mainly middle-aged and older women carrying placards with slogans such as “the grandmothers are with the people”, video footage by independent news site showed.

Minsk police spokesman Roman Lashkevich told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency: “We deployed stun grenades from an Osa flare gun and fired teargas when the citizens started to show aggression”.

“Today the regime crossed yet another line,” Tikhanovskaya said in a statement, pointing out that older Belarusians had once been seen as Lukashenko’s most loyal demographic.

The men in balaclavas were shown spraying teargas from inside their vehicles as protesters angry at the detention of demonstrators threw flowers at them and shouted “Fascists!” and “Cowards!”

Later, protesters in Minsk blocked roads and set tyres on fire, as military vehicles drove through the city centre, reported.

During Sunday’s mass protests, police deployed water cannon and stun grenades in Minsk, detaining more than 700

Read more

Belarus Interior Ministry: Army will use lethal force on protesters

This article contains graphic descriptions and imagery. Discretion is advised.The Belarusian armed forces will use lethal force and “special equipment” against anti-government protesters, First Deputy Interior Minister Henadz Kazakevich said Monday afternoon.

“We have informed the public on the results of the mass events that were organized across the country October 11, as well as the measures taken to maintain public order,” Kazakevich said in a video address

“That being said, the protests, the epicenter of which has mostly moved to Minsk, have become organized and extremely radical,” the state police official continued.

“Consequently,” said Kazakevich, “interior affairs servicemen and the interior troops will not leave the streets and, if necessary, will use special equipment and live ammunition.”

Directed by Minister Yury Karayeu, the republic’s Ministry of Internal Affairs is responsible for law enforcement and general security comes under the command of National Security Advisor Viktor Lukashenko, President Alexander Lukashenko’s eldest son.

A mother-agency for the Belarusian Militia, the Presidential Guard and the state’s Internal Troops – a paramilitary special forces division – the ministry has been working parallel to the State Security Committee (KGB) since the two split from the Belarusian NKVD in 1946.

The first reported case of ammunition being used against peaceful demonstrators in the recent wave of protests was on August 10 with the death of anti-government protester Aliaksandar Taraikouski the night after the contested general election.

With authorities first claiming the man died as an improvised explosive device detonated in his hands, footage filmed by an Associated Press reporter showed Taraikouski was shot in the upper abdomen while walking with his hands raised in front of a cordon.

Police did, however, acknowledge opening fire on demonstrators in the city of Brest (Bierascie) on the Belarusian tri-border with Poland and Ukraine, killing one, Radio Free Europe reported.

According to the media outlet, despite sporadic shootings, the minister’s Monday statement is the first time Belarusian authorities have explicitly threatened to use lethal force against protesters, marking a significant escalation.

As Kazakevich’s address was made during a nationwide elderly “grandmas against violence” march, the Monday protests became more active toward the evening, with pro-opposition Telegram channel Nexta TV posting footage of barricades being established by demonstrators in the capital.

At least 700 people have been detained on Monday, some being transported to the Akrescina (Okrestina) detention facility.

Monday night, a group of anonymous Belarusian activists called on demonstrators to establish roadblocks across the capital early Tuesday morning, “in order to help the city strike.”

Clashes first broke out in Belarus on election night as official preliminary results gave President Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, over 80% of the votes, with opposition candidate Tsichanouskaya scoring 10%. The opposition claimed Lukashenko received closer to 20% of the votes.

Source Article

Read more

EU blacklists Belarus interior minister and 39 others

EU states imposed asset-freezes and visa-bans on 40 Belarusians on Friday (2 October) after Cyprus, finally, dropped its veto.

The top name on the list was Belarusian interior minister Yuri Karaeu, whom the EU accused of orchestrating “arbitrary arrests and ill‐treatment, including torture, of peaceful demonstrators as well as intimidation and violence against journalists”.

It designated 25 other security, police, and intelligence chiefs for similar reasons.

It also listed 14 officials responsible for “misconduct of the 2020 presidential electoral process, its non-compliance with basic international standards of fairness and transparency”.

However, the blacklist fell far short of measures that the EU applied after a previous Belarusian crackdown in 2010.

Those covered Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko as well as top oligarchs said to be bankrolling his regime.

But German chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the move anyway at a summit in Brussels on Friday.

“That we could now agree to those sanctions is an important signal, because it strengthens the hand of those who are protesting for freedom of opinion in Belarus,” she said.

Josep Borrell, the EU foreign relations chief, echoed her, saying: “We hope these sanctions will encourage the Belarusian leadership to refrain from further violence [and] to free all the unlawfully-detained people”.

“The EU is ready to impose additional restrictive measures if the situation does not improve,” he added.

“We showed … Europe can deliver when it counts,” Latvian prime minister Krišjānis Kariņš also said.

The Belarus decision had turned into a test of EU foreign policy, after Cyprus vetoed it on the grounds that it wanted similar Turkey sanctions at the same time.

EU promises

But in the end, Cyprus backed down in return for more EU tough talk on Turkey’s recent naval incursions into Cypriot and Greek waters.

“In case of renewed [Turkish] unilateral actions or provocations … the EU will use all the instruments and options at its disposal,” EU leaders warned.

The Turkey sanctions, such as blacklists of people and entities involved in Turkey’s naval operations, “can be triggered immediately”, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen also said.

For their part, Cypriot president Nikos Anastasiadis and Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said they were “absolutely satisfied” by the EU pledge.

EU leaders also urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to call a ceasefire after one week of intense fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan.

And EU Council president Charles Michel said “external interference” in the conflict was “unacceptable” after France, on Thursday, accused Turkey of sending Syrian “jihadists” to fight on the side of its Azeri ally.

For its part, Belarus previously threatened to impose counter-sanctions if the EU went ahead, including expulsions of European journalists.

Turkey incentives

Meanwhile, EU leaders also offered Turkey incentives if it came to heel.

They spoke of “the modernisation of the [EU-Turkey] Customs Union and trade facilitation, people-to-people contacts, high-level dialogues, [and] continued cooperation on migration issues”.

“While there were some positive elements in the decisions regarding our country, many areas were divorced from realities,” the Turkish foreign ministry

Read more

Interior Ministry says 22 protest activities took place in Belarus on Sunday – World

MINSK, September 28. /TASS/. Twenty-two protest activities took place in Belarus on Sunday, the country’s Interior Ministry said in a statement on Telegram.

“Twenty-two protest activities were recorded in Belarus on September 27,” the statement reads. “Over 350 people were taken into custody until administrative hearings are held,” the ministry added.

The ministry also said that police in the country’s capital of Minsk had received hundreds of complaints against participants in unauthorized protests.

“Unfortunately, many protests ignored calls to abide by laws and blocked traffic, endangering not only themselves but other people as well,” the Interior Ministry noted.

Belarus held its presidential election on August 9. According to the Central Election Commission’s data, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko received 80.1% of the vote. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who garnered 10.12%, refused to recognize the election’s results and left Belarus. Protests erupted in the country’s capital of Minsk and several other cities following the presidential vote, leading to clashes between protesters and law enforcement officers. The opposition’s Coordination Council keeps calling on the country’s people to carry on with protests, while the authorities are emphasizing the need to put an end to unauthorized activities.

Source Article

Read more

Hundreds arrested during protests in Belarus, says Interior Ministry

Minsk [Belarus], September 7 (ANI/Sputnik): Hundreds of people have been detained throughout Belarus for participating in unauthorized protests on Sunday, Interior Ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova told Sputnik, adding that the precise number will be available on Monday.
Earlier in the day, opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko organised protests in Minsk and other cities.
“Hundreds of citizens have been arrested across the country for taking part in unauthorized protests. We do not know the final number, we are planning to present it on Monday morning,” Chemodanova said.
Meanwhile, Belarusian telecommunication provider A1 announced restoring data transmission services in Minsk to full capacity.
A Sputnik correspondent has reported that law enforcement officers disassembled the roadblock outside of the Independence Palace, the residence of Lukashenko. Pedestrians are now being allowed through.
The Minsk subway has resumed its normal work as well, according to its Telegram channel, as several stations were previously closed during the day amid protests.
The Sunday protests were the latest in the series that started in the aftermath of the August 9 election, which saw Lukashenko re-elected for a sixth term.
The opposition insists that Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is the real winner. (ANI/Sputnik)

Source Article

Read more