Since the August 9 presidential election, thousands of Belarusians have taken to the streets in opposition to authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. On Sunday, more than 100,000 people gathered in the capital, Minsk, to call for his resignation.
Lukashenko’s regime has deployed water cannons and tear gas over the past week and a half. At least 6,700 people have been arrested; government forces have killed several protesters. The violent official response has only further galvanized the opposition. It is expected that the protest movement will continue to grow in the coming days. Though there have been intermittent protests against the government during Lukashenko’s reign, the current mobilization is unprecedented. There are similarities between the 2014 Euromaidan protests in Ukraine and the rallies being staged in Belarus. The movements both started by making a public issue of political corruption. A key difference, however, is that the protests in Ukraine erupted over the broad public desire to align the country with the European Union, rather than Russia, and the movement in Belarus has focused on the rigging of elections and Lukashenko’s repressive regime.
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