Belarusian opposition activists rally, urging leader to go
MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Some 200 people rallied on Saturday in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, calling for the resignation of the president who has ruled the former Soviet republic since 1994.
Opposition activists carrying Belarusian and European Union flags urged President Alexander Lukashenko to step down. They criticized some of the laws he recently pushed through, including one forcing citizens to register with the state employment exchange or pay a hefty fine.
“We demand that authorities stop stealing from people — and only Lukashenko’s resignation can change that,” said Mykola Statkevich, a former presidential candidate who spent five years in prison on what was largely viewed as politically motivated charges.
Police allowed the protesters chanting “For shame!” to rally outside the seat of government and KGB headquarters. They did not make any arrests during the protest, but an Associated Press reporter saw at least two people detained afterward.
Lukashenko, who has been described as Europe’s last dictator, in recent years has often allowed Belarusian opposition, fragmented and largely unpopular, to protest unhindered.