Women March For New Elections In Belarus
Dozens attended what have become known as the weekly women’s marches in Minsk on October 17. The protesters demanded a new presidential election and freedom for political prisoners, including Maryya Kalesniva, a key member of the opposition who is facing charges of undermining state security. Onlookers waved from balconies and drivers honked car horns in solidarity. Contrary to a smaller student protest that was dispersed by police, the women’s march was allowed to proceed unhindered without riot police in sight. Belarus has been roiled by protests since an August 9 presidential election that Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has been in power since 1994, was declared the winner of. Opposition groups, and many Belarusians, say the results were fraudulent, and that activist Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya was, in fact, the legitimate winner. Tsikhanouskaya and her supporters stepped up their pressure this week as she called on Lukashenka to step down by October 25 or face a nationwide strike.