Unrest in Belarus: Day 2 Recap

Credit: TUT.BY

Two demonstrators are dead. 6,000+ are injured and 6,000+ detained.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has fled to Lithuania.

Aleksandr Lukashenko told the press that “there will be no Euromaidan in Belarus” as he instructed the Belarusian OMON, KGB, the 5th Special Operations Brigade, and the 103rd Vitebsk Airborne — amongst many more — to pursue an even harsher crackdown of the “rioters” as the second night of demonstrations began across the country.

They did not begin, nor end peacefully as gatherings in Minsk, Brest, and Grodno were met with a violent response by Belarusian officials.

The bulk of the violence last night took place near the Pushkinskaya Metro in northwest Minsk — where approximately 1,000 demonstrators barricaded themselves in the plaza.

Vladimir Putin congratulated Lukashenko on his “impressive victory.”

A nationwide labor strike is set to begin tonight.

Credit: TUT.BY

The day began with an on-camera press statement and Q&A from Aleksandr Lukashenko in which he alleged that demonstrations were the result of foreign interference in the Belarusian democratic process. He declared that there will be “no Euromaidan” in Belarus and, if demonstrations persist, they will be met with violence:

Credit: Twitter, Ruptly

This came as hundreds of family members across the country tried to visit their loved ones who were detained the night prior. Approximately 3,000 demonstrators were detained after the first night of protests:

Credit: Twitter, Franak Viačorka, RFE/RL

There were also unsubstantiated claims from the Belarusian KGB that they had thwarted an assassination attempt on Svetlana Tikhanovskaya — allegedly planned by a foreign actor in Minsk:

Credit: Twitter, Liveuamap

Here is an official report from TASS:

Credit: Twitter, TASS

Public transport was not re-opened. Six more metro stations in Minsk were closed beginning on 10 Aug. 2020 in order to prevent demonstrators from easily traveling across the city to join rallies — which were not planned to be concentrated in any specific part of the city:

Credit: Twitter, TUT.BY

A curfew was implemented in Minsk for 18:00 local time — an hour before the demonstrations were originally scheduled to begin. Shops and restaurants were closed as workers were instructed to head home early and stay off the streets , or else risk being detained for being outside after curfew.

Demonstration organizers agreed to split the Belarusian response to protests by concentrating smaller gatherings in residential districts and around metro stations in Minsk. They believed that this would confuse the Belarusian officials and spread the deployments thinly across the city, making them more manageable if clashes were to ensue.

In response, Belarusian officials set up checkpoints across the city for arbitrary detentions and searches:

Credit: Google Maps, Telegram

They also formed a number of blockades on major roads in Minsk, hoping to re-route any potential demonstrations away from the city center:

Credit: Twitter, Liveuamap, NEXTA

Ahead of demonstrations, Russian media solidified their support of Lukashenko and continued to report on his “impressive victory” over Tikhanovskaya:

Credit: Twitter, Steve Rosenberg, BBC

There were reports of further internet/telecommunications blackouts across Belarus, however activists with access to VPNs, Tor, or other software were able to circumvent any blockades in cyberspace and continue to organize protests ahead of nightfall:

Credit: Twitter, Franak Viačorka

Following the establishment of blockades in Minsk, Belarusian officials began closing down access to a number of other cities in Belarus.

The city center of Grodno was completely shut down:

Credit: Twitter, Belsat

Brest was also shut down:

Credit: Twitter, Balki Bayhan

Even smaller villages in the countryside, like Lida, were completely shut down and had significant OMON presences:

Credit: Twitter, Belsat

The streets were completely empty ahead of the demonstrations in Minsk:

Credit: Twitter, Denis Kazakiewicz

At approximately 19:00 local time — just as protests were set to begin — demonstrators began leaving their homes are marching to the outskirts of Minsk. They planned to concentrate larger rallies in the outskirts of the city, while smaller gatherings were planned to take place outside metro stations and in residential districts:

Credit: Twitter, Denis Kazakiewicz, NEXTA

Demonstrations began in Minsk at 19:00 as planned — with groups organizing around their local metro stations and outside of their residences:

Credit: Twitter, Tadeusz Giczan, NEXTA

Another angle:

Credit: Twitter, Franak Viačorka, Belamova

Here is another crowd that had gathered near the Molodyozhnaya station:

Credit: Twitter, Tadeusz Giczan, NEXTA

And they began somewhat peacefully, especially in Minsk:

Credit: Twitter, IntelCrab

However, they were met with a response within the hour. The above pictured demonstration on Kalvariyskaya st. in Minsk was dispersed by Belarusian KGB Alfa units within minutes of blocking traffic:

Credit: Twitter, Franak Viačorka

They fired upon the crowd without warning — unclear if it was with rubber bullets or live rounds, or both — shooting and severely injuring the Nasha Niva photographer who had taken pictures in solidarity with the protestors:

Credit: Telegram, NEXTA

Here is footage of the incident:

Credit: Twitter, Tadeusz Giczan, NEXTA

At this moment, riot police in other parts of Minsk began advancing towards demonstrations that had surrounded the metro stations:

Credit: Twitter, Tadeusz Giczan, NEXTA

But the violence was not unique to Minsk, even demonstrators in Brest were met with a response by officials — beginning to clash with them within seconds of organizing:

Credit: Twitter, Tadeusz Giczan, NEXTA

And in Mazyr:

Credit: Twitter, Tadeusz Giczan, NEXTA

The largest concentration of demonstrators in Belarus last night was at the Pushinskaya metro station in northwest Minsk, where demonstrators numbered well into the thousands:

Credit: Twitter, IntelCrab, NEXTA

This was approximately a mile away from the concentration on the first night of protests nearby Stela (in red), whereas Pushinskaya (in blue) was further away from the city center:

Credit: Google Maps
Credit: Belsat

As nightfall arrived, clashes between demonstrators and Belarusian officials escalated. This also resulted in significant material damage to some of the metro stations in which protests were concentrated around. Most notably, Pushinskaya was on fire for a short period of time.

There were also casualties reported amongst demonstrators — even a bus driver who was working at the station — once Belarusian officials began firing tear gas and flash grenades into the crowd.

The man pictured below has unfortunately died of his injuries:

Credit: Twitter, Tadeusz Giczan, NEXTA

Demonstrators began clashing with police with the bare hands — some armed with blunt weapons they had salvaged from the earlier material damage:

Credit: Twitter, Liveuamap, Belamova

Demonstrators began then to throw Molotov cocktails at the riot police, although some of them backfired and seemingly resulted in material damage to the surroundings:

Credit: Twitter, Alex Kokcharov, NEXTA

Belarusian officials began firing 12-gauge Sterling rubber slugs into the crowd, resulting in serious injuries amongst the demonstrators:

Credit: Twitter, Belarus Free Theatre, NEXTA

Here is a map of all the clashes in Minsk, put together by an opposition channel on Telegram:

Credit: Google Maps, Tadeusz Giczan, Telegram

Demonstrators began firing back with fireworks in an attempt to intimidate the riot police:

Credit: Twitter, Tadeusz Giczan

Riot police began fleeing, once they were overwhelmed by demonstrators:

Credit: Twitter, Alec Luhn

It was at this point that the U.S. State Dept. issued a statement regarding the unrest in Belarus:

Credit: U.S. Department of State

In order to prevent the deployment of further Belarusian officials, demonstrators in Minsk began getting into their cars to create artificial traffic jams in the Second Ring around the city:

Credit: Twitter, Euromaidan press

Another angle:

Credit: Twitter, Jakub Pacocha, NEXTA

Demonstrations persisted until about 04:00 local time in Minsk, in which demonstrators began to peacefully disperse.

A third round of demonstrations are scheduled for 19:00 local time in Belarus tonight.

A national labor strike is set to begin tomorrow.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has fled to Lithuania. Her arbitrary detention at the CEC yesterday, as well as her movement to the EU, will be covered in a later article.

This account of events is not exhaustive, but features the most important footage from the unrest in Belarus last night. It will be updated as new developments occur.

Alexander Leslie is a foreign policy analyst, freelance journalist, and has an M.A. in Eurasian, Russian, & East European Studies from Georgetown University. His interests include U.S.-Georgia relations, energy politics, and studies in counterterrorism policy.

Contact: aejleslie@gmail.com

Follow me on Twitter!

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