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Protests Continue In Belarus Demanding End To Authoritarian Lukashenka Rule

A protest rally in southwestern Minsk, one of several small demonstrations that were reported in various districts of the Belarusian capital on December 19.

People marched and rallied in Minsk and elsewhere in Belarus on December 19 as demonstrations demanding that Alyaksandr Lukashenka step down entered day 133.

Belarus has been rocked by protests since August 9 when Lukashenka, in power since 1994, was declared the winner of the country’s presidential election, a vote many Belarusians and others charge was rigged and actually won by opposition challenger Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

Since then, some 28,000 Belarusians have been detained, hundreds beaten on the streets and in detention -- with many cases considered torture -- and several killed in the regime’s crackdown.

The United States and European Union refuse to recognize Lukashenka, 66, as the legitimate ruler and have slapped sanctions on him and other officials held responsible for the voter fraud and post-election crackdown.

Crisis In Belarus

Read our ongoing coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka continues his brutal crackdown on NGOs, activists, and independent media following the August 2020 presidential election, widely seen as fraudulent.

Tsikhanouskaya, who left for Lithuania shortly after the election amid threats to her and her family, has become the face of the Belarusian protests abroad.

Crowd numbers at protests in Minsk and elsewhere have dropped amid fatigue, repression, and the cold weather. Protests organizers have also switched tactics, calling for smaller gatherings to evade arrest and stretch the riot police.

On December 19, small marches were reported in several districts of Minsk, RFE/RL’s Belarus Service reported, with many carrying the opposition’s red-and-white flag or banners.

Small marches and rallies were also reported elsewhere, including the western city of Hrodna.

So far, there have been no reports of demonstrators being detained by riot police.

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    RFE/RL's Belarus Service

    RFE/RL's Belarus Service is one of the leading providers of news and analysis to Belarusian audiences in their own language. It is a bulwark against pervasive Russian propaganda and defies the government’s virtual monopoly on domestic broadcast media.