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2020.11.19 08:00

100 days of Belarus protests: a person detained every 5 minutes and carte blanche for ‘tikhary’

Madona Lučkaitė, LRT RADIJAS, LRT.lt2020.11.19 08:00

Belarusians have been protesting the undemocratic regime of Alexander Lukashenko for over a hundred days now. But the anger of the people is not subsiding, while killings of protesters continue to fuel discontent, Maxim Milta said.

“There are virtually no social groups that are not involved [in the protests],” Milta, the head of communications at the Vilnius-based European Humanities University, told LRT Radio.

Read more: Lithuania backs more sanctions on Minsk after protester's death

“While we’re talking, pensioners are protesting in Minsk, and this is not the first Monday when they are doing so. Disabled people march on Thursdays and Fridays, while Sunday is the day of major protests in the capital,” he added.

Last week, Belarusians were outraged again at the death of 31-year-old Roman Bondarenko. The young artist was beaten by police officers in civilian clothes after he tried to prevent them from removing white-red-white ribbons from a playground.

The heavily injured man died in a hospital. On the evening of the disaster, people gathered at the site of the beating to mourn and pay tribute to Bondarenko.

According to Milta, the so-called tikhary – security officers in civilian clothes that usually cover their faces – can act freely.

“These are police officers that do not wear a uniform or insignia and are given carte blanche to beat anyone without any justifiable reason,” he explained. “People’s anger [at Bondarenko’s death] is pouring to this day.”

Read more: Raised under repressions, young Belarusians idealise life in Lithuania

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on Monday that, this week, the EU foreign ministers might agree on extending sanctions on the Belarusian regime. According to Milta, the existing sanctions on several dozen high-ranking officials, including Lukashenko himself, are insufficient.

“In the last months, a person would be detained every five minutes in Belarus. Leaked Interior Ministry information revealed that by November 3, 25,800 people were detained. Today, this number should be close to 28,000. These are the greatest repressions on the European continent in 40 years,” Milta said.

“Of course, the Western response to impose sanctions on a few dozen officials that are already accustomed to being sanctioned is insufficient,” he added.

Lithuania's acting Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius has supported extending sanctions on the Belarusian regime. This was confirmed by his spokeswoman Rasa Jakilaitienė to BNS on Monday.

Read more: Belarusian embassy in Lithuania pelted with potatoes