Embattled Belarus chief jeered by staff as strikes develop

Minsk, August 17

Workers heckled and jeered President Alexander Lukashenko on Monday as he visited a manufacturing unit and strikes grew throughout Belarus, elevating the strain on the authoritarian chief to step down after 26 years in energy.

On the ninth straight day of mass protests over the official outcomes of the August 9 presidential election that demonstrators say was rigged, Lukashenko flew by helicopter to a manufacturing unit within the capital of Minsk to rally assist, however he was met by offended staff chanting, “Go away!” He informed the employees: “I will never cave in to pressure”. Lukashenko stated the nation may have a brand new presidential election, however solely after approving an amended model of its constitution—an obvious bid to purchase a while amid the rising political disaster.

He informed the manufacturing unit staff that those that intend to strike may go away if they need, however he added that the protests are ruining the financial system and stated the nation would collapse if he steps down.

“Some of you might have got the impression that the government no longer exists, that it has tumbled down. The government will never collapse, you know me well,” the 65-year-old former state farm director shouted.

As he spoke, over 5,000 hanging staff from the Minsk Tractor Plant marched down the streets of the town, becoming a member of an rising variety of state-controlled factories throughout the nation of 9.5 million in strolling off the job.

Miners on the large potash manufacturing unit in Soligorsk additionally stated they had been becoming a member of the strike. The large Belaruskali manufacturing unit that accounts for a fifth of the world’s potash fertilizer output is the nation’s high money earner.

The strikes observe a brutal dispersal of peaceable, post-election demonstrations final week with rubber bullets, tear gasoline, golf equipment and stun grenades. At least 7,000 had been detained by riot police, with many complaining they had been crushed mercilessly. One protester was killed and tons of had been wounded.

The staff need Lukashenko to offer strategy to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the main opposition candidate within the election.

“Lukashenko is a former president. He needs to go,” stated Sergei Dylevsky, the chief of the protest on the Minsk Tractor Plant, including that Tsikhanouskaya is “our president, legitimate and elected by the people”.  Dylevsky voiced concern that the iron-fisted chief’s weekend phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin may herald an try by the nation’s large jap neighbour to ship in troops to prop up Lukashenko.

“We don’t want that, and we won’t let that happen,” he stated.

Lukashenko spoke twice with Putin over the weekend and reported the Russian chief informed him Moscow stands prepared to offer assist within the face of what he described as overseas aggression. He claimed that NATO nations are beefing up navy forces on the border with Belarus—a declare the alliance rejected.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reaffirmed Monday that the alliance has no navy buildup within the area.

“We remain vigilant, strictly defensive, and ready to deter any aggression against NATO allies,” he stated.

Lithuanian officers pointed at a navy train Belarus abruptly launched close to the borders of Lithuania and Poland on Monday and warned about worrying indicators that Russia is likely to be planning to make use of the state of affairs to take over Belarus.

“If they consider just incorporating the country in a simple way, the consequences would be unpredictable,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius stated.

Alexander Klaskovsky, an impartial Minsk-based political analyst, stated the conversations with Putin could mirror the Kremlin mulling assist for Lukashenko in change for his consent for a better union between the 2 nations, which the Belarusian chief has resisted previously.

“Russia understands Lukashenko’s weakness and is preparing its own scenario, which could envisage a deep integration in exchange for military assistance,” Klaskovsky stated.

Asked in regards to the state of affairs in Belarus as he left the White House, President Donald Trump known as it “terrible”. “We’ll be following it very closely,” he stated. — AP


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