Thursday, July 07, 2011

Revolution for Belarus?

Belsat journalists Andrey Fralu and Mikalay Dzychenya, and cameraman Alyaksandr Dzyanisau were issued prison sentences of ten days each, for their coverage of the peaceful silent protests in Belarus on Monday 4th July.

15 journalists in total were detained in the day, some of whom are still currently awaiting trial. Tear gas was used against cameramen in Minsk who tried to film the protests and in all, approximately 350 people were arrested. Other reporters were unable to be at the protests after having their visas withdrawn at the last minute.

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko delivers a speech as he takes part in celebrations marking Independence Day in Minsk, 3 July 2011

The revolutions which have been taking place in Belarus began through social networking sites which were promptly blocked by the government. President Lukashenko said that the protests against his rule were an attempt to bring the country ‘to its knees’ and he would not allow that to happen.

Protests in Belarus are rare; the authoritarian rule of Mr Lukashenko has lead to many Western governments levying sanctions against the country. The protests consisted of clapping over President Lukashenko’s speech as he moved to address the Independence Day celebrators. Reuters reported that the first individual to do this was promptly led away by police. Others joined in and there were soon clashes between the protesters and the police.

Revolution has almost occurred in Belarus several times in recent history, notably after the President’s re-election but Lukashenko insists that he will remain in power and Belarus will not become the next ‘Arab Spring’ victim.

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