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 ramps up pressure on NGOs and independent media as part of a brutal crackdown against protesters and the opposition following an August 2020 election widely considered 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.