Thousands Take to Streets of Minsk in Ongoing Protests
Police in Minsk, Belarus used water cannon to disperse crowds as protests against President Alexander Lukashenko continued for the ninth straight Sunday. An estimated 100,000 people took to the streets of the capital Sunday.Since the longtime president claimed victory in a contested election August 9, protesters have regularly taken to the streets demanding his resignation and the release of political prisoners.Lukashenko maintains he won the poll in a landslide — garnering 80% of all ballots — despite widespread claims at home and abroad the vote was heavily rigged to keep him in power.For Belarus Protesters, Battle is for Long HaulDemonstrations intensified after an embattled Lukashenko was secretly sworn in for yet another term, but protesters realize the end may not come soonOver the weekend, Belarus canceled the accreditation of all foreign journalists.Late last week, the European Union imposed sanctions on about 40 Belarusian officials accused of falsifying the election results and cracking down on the subsequent protests. Lukashenko was not on the list.Public anger has stewed over the crackdown in the wake of the protests that have seen more than 7,500 arrests and police violence against demonstrators.Hundreds have emerged from police custody with bruises and tales of torture at the hands of Lukashenko’s security agents.Lukashenko has said the protests are encouraged and supported by the West and accused NATO of moving forces near Belarusian borders. The alliance has denied the accusations.