Journalists from TUT.BY, BelaPAN, Belsat, TASS, the Associated Press, and other media. A total of 17 journalists were detained in the central Freedom Square on the evening of August 27, according to the human rights center Vyasna, as they prepared to cover a demonstration calling for President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s resignation and demanding new elections be carried out in a free and fair manner. Most of them were later released.
There, police dispersed a crowd of about 1,000 demonstrators and detained more than 260 people, the rights NGO Vyasna reported. Demonstrators have faced a brutal police crackdown, with widespread evidence of beatings and torture in police custody.
The 65-year-old Lukashenka, who has ruled Belarus for 26 years, has shown his determination to stay in power despite more than two weeks of protests against the results of the August 9 presidential election that gave the Belarusian leader a new six-year term.
Neighboring Russia, a historical ally that wields some influence over Minsk through financial and political levers, has warned the EU and the United States against interfering in Belarusian affairs.
In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin told the state-run Russian TV channel Rossia-24 on August 27 that Russia has prepared a contingent of law-enforcement officers that could be sent to Belarus “if necessary” to restore order in the event of “looting” during the ongoing postelection protests.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Berlin after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on August 27 that Lukashenka “must demonstrate full respect” for the fundamental rights of the Belarusian people, “including freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest.”
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted that any Russian military intervention in Belarus would be “a hostile act, in breach of international law and human rights of Belarusian people, who should be free to decide their own fate.”
“Estonia and Latvia have agreed to form also our national targeted sanctions list addressing these officials of the Belarusian regime who are responsible for electoral fraud or using violence against peaceful protesters,” Reinsalu said.