"Alcoholics, prostitutes and puppets of foreign powers" - this is how the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko is calling the opposition
Svetlana Alexievich, a Nobel Prize winner and a member of the opposition council that seeks new elections and talks with Alexander Lukashenko about a peaceful end to his 26-year rule, was called in for questioning by Belarusian investigators.
Before being questioned, she told reporters that the council does not seek a coup, but wants to unite society. “I don’t feel guilty, I feel that everything we did was absolutely legal,” she said. The interrogation lasted about 15 minutes, and Aleksievich used the right not to incriminate herself. She remained in witness status.
Lukashenko’s security services have begun to target the opposition council and leaders at state-owned enterprises after more than two weeks of protests. The president has called the so called council unconstitutional and ridiculed protesters as alcoholics, prostitutes and puppets of foreign powers.
“Maybe the world will help us so that Lukashenko will start talking to someone,” Alexievich said to a crowd as she arrived at the Investigative Committee in the capital Minsk on Wednesday. “Lukashenko will only talk to Putin, but he must start speaking with the people. Maybe Putin should be brought in somehow.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the issue a domestic matter and said external meddling is unacceptable. The U.S. has denounced the elections, and European Union foreign ministers may give the go-ahead this week to blacklist 15 to 20 Belarusian officials deemed responsible for repression and election fraud, according to a senior EU official.
Against the background of events in the country, the Belarusian ruble is rapidly depreciating against the dollar and the euro. On Wednesday, the dollar rose in price to 2.6483 Belarusian rubles, the euro - to 3.1286, the Russian ruble, to 3.5062 rubles per 100 Russian rubles. The dollar reached an all-time high, writes Tut.by. The last record was set in March this year.
“Belarus should become a strong concrete bridge between Russia and the West.”
Opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has asked the EU to call for a new vote, while saying the protests are not geopolitical. Undermining ties with Russia is “not in the interest of Belarusian society,” opposition politician Pavel Latushka said in an interview with Bloomberg.
Another opposition leader, Maria Kalesnikava, an ally of Tsikhanouskaya and one of the most visible opposition members in Minsk, has been summoned for questioning Thursday.
“I refused to answer any questions and said all information can be found on the coordination committee’s website,” Alexievich, who won a 2015 Nobel Prize in literature, told Bloomberg after spending less than half an hour with investigators. She said they consider her a witness, and she didn’t sign any non-disclosure agreements.
Two members of the coordination council were sentenced to 10 days in jail on Tuesday, the first arrests of opposition leaders since former banker Viktor Babariko was jailed in June. It marks a shift from the police’s initial, brutal reaction, when at least 5 people died and 7,000 people were detained, some of whom say they were tortured.
Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde that the time has not yet come for negotiations with Russia, but the opposition is open for dialogue with everyone.
Three Belshina employees said they were fired for trying to organize a strike.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs counted 4.8 thousand protesters in the country on Tuesday, 51 people were detained. The portal Tut.by reported this with reference to the ministry. The department estimated the number of those who came to the pro-government rallies much higher - 16.7 thousand people.
The Lithuanian Migration Department reported that 11 Belarusians have already asked for political asylum in the country.
/ VIDEO / Shocking images from Belarus. An elderly man who demanded answers from the masked men, knocked to the ground and beaten with sticks
After the fourth night of protests, shocking images from Belarus continue to appear. A video has been published on the internet from which you can see how an elderly man is knocked to the ground, beaten and taken on a bus by masked men.
This was after one of the law enforcement officers broke the windshield of the car with the elderly man behind the wheel. Later, he stopped the car, got out and demanded an account from the police. Initially, law enforcement ignored him, but the driver was insistent.
Soon, two masked men attacked the elderly man. They knocked him to the ground and hit him twice with sticks. After that, they were joined by two other masked men who took him by the hands and feet and took him to a bus, which was parked on the right side of the road.
From the same image, made by a witness, it can be seen that later the old man's car was seized, and the bus, in which he was taken, moved from the spot.
Belarus's Interior Ministry announced on Thursday that it had detained another 700 people on the fourth day of violently repressed post-election demonstrations, with at least 6,700 arrests.
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Thousands of protesters in Sri Lanka's trading capital, Colombo, stormed the president's official residence on Saturday amid months of growing public anger over the country's worst economic crisis in seven decades.
Thousands of protesters also broke down the gates of the presidential secretariat by the sea, which was the site of a protest for months, and entered the premises, TV images showed.
Military personnel and police in both locations failed to hold back the crowd as they chanted slogans calling on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign.
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Two sources in the defense ministry said that President Rajapaksa left the official residence for his safety on Friday before the planned rally for the weekend.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe convened an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss a "speedy resolution" of the ongoing political crisis after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled his official residence on Saturday; protesters attacked protesters...
Wickremesinghe, next in line if Rajapaksa resigns, called on political party leaders to join the meeting and called for an urgent convening of parliament to discuss the crisis, his office said in a statement.
At least 21 people, including two police officers, were injured and hospitalized during the ongoing protests.
The island nation suffers from an unprecedented shortage of commodities, and its 22 million inhabitants have suffered from lightning inflation and prolonged power outages since the beginning of the year.
The crisis came after COVID-19 hit the tourism-dependent economy and was exacerbated by the build-up of enormous government debt, rising oil prices, and a ban on importing chemical fertilizers last year, which devastated agriculture.
Many blame President Rajapaksa for the country's decline. The protests, largely peaceful in March, demanded his resignation.
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At least four cabinet members have resigned, and a few more will make the same decision, a government official said, without specifying the names of those involved. On Sunday, hundreds of protesters occupied the official residence of the president, his office, and that of the prime minister in the country's capital, Colombo. In fact, the protesters allegedly found millions of rupees in the presidential residence, which they later handed over to the security teams, according to the local press.
Hundreds of thousands protested in Colombo, demanding Rajapaksa's resignation over poor economic management.
According to the BBC, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has announced he will resign after protesters stormed his official residence and set fire to the prime minister's house.
The president will resign on July 13, and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has also agreed to resign. Parliament Speaker Mahinda Abeywardana said the president had decided to leave "to ensure a peaceful handover of power."
A few hours earlier, the prime minister's home was set on fire after protesters stormed inside. Earlier, the crowd invaded Rajapaksa's official residence, walking inside and jumping into his pool.
The island of 22 million people is struggling with a severe currency shortage with limited fuel, food, and medicine imports, plunging the country into the worst economic crisis since 1948.
The crisis came after the pandemic affected the tourism-dependent economy. It was exacerbated by the build-up of enormous government debt, rising oil prices, and a ban on importing chemical fertilizers last year, which devastated agriculture.
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The legislature's chairman said that Sri Lanka's parliament has decided to hold a vote on July 20 to elect a replacement for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has vowed to resign by Wednesday.
He said the decision was made to convene parliament on Friday, July 15.
"Nominations for the presidency will be tabled in parliament on July 19. Parliament will vote on July 20 to elect a new president," Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said in a statement, Agerpres was quoted as saying.
"During today's meeting of political leaders, it was agreed that it is essential to ensure that a new unity government is installed, by the Constitution, and to carry out essential services," he added.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa is due to resign on Wednesday, following widespread protests across the country. Over the weekend, protesters invaded the presidential palace.
Meanwhile, the incumbent president was transferred on Monday to an air base near the international airport, fueling the hypothesis that he intends to flee abroad, reports AFP.
After fleeing the presidential palace besieged by protesters, Gotabaya Rajapaksa found refuge in the Naval Forces headquarters before being transported to Katunayake Air Base, which is on the same perimeter as the country's main airport, Bandaranaike, said a senior defense official.
The presidency's office did not comment Monday on the head of the state's situation, but several local media outlets reported that he was preparing to leave for Dubai.
Demonstrators who occupied the Presidential Palace on Saturday, shortly after the 73-year-old leader left him, discovered 17.85 million rupees (49,000 euros) in new banknotes in the building and handed them over to the police.
"The cash was taken over by the police and will be presented to the court today," a police spokesman said.
According to official sources, a suitcase full of documents was also found in the president's residence.
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