Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in the Belarusian capital Minsk on Sunday, demanding the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko in the sixth consecutive week of protests.
This comes at a time when hackers leaked personal information to more than 2000 senior police officers in two batches, pledging that “no one will remain anonymous, even under masks,” amid reports of violent campaigns targeting the demonstrators.
And Russian news agency TASS, citing a police spokesman, reported that at least 10 people were arrested on Sunday. The human rights group Spring-96 said that at least 196 people were arrested across the entire province.
Local media published videos showing security forces wearing helmets and masks as they dragged protesters from the streets.
On Saturday, more than 390 women protesters were arrested in Minsk, including an elderly woman who became a symbol of the protests.
The unrest began in the wake of the August 9 presidential election, which many Belarusians believe Mr. Lukashenko, A former Soviet collective farm manager, fraudulently won.
Lukashenko was president of Belarus for 26 years, during which time he constantly suppressed political opposition.
He resisted calls to resign, occasionally showing up with a machine gun, backed by the Russian president’s support. Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Weeks ago, the European Union pledged to impose sanctions on Minsk over alleged election fraud and human rights violations, but it is now expected to fall behind the deadline for action on Monday.
Thousands of people were arrested during the protests, and many reported being beaten and tortured in detention – though the government denies these allegations.
“As the arrests continue, we will continue to spread the data on a large scale,” the hackers told opposition news channel Nexta.
Details include the names of the senior officers, as well as their titles and family names – common in Russian-speaking countries – as well as their dates of birth, parent units, ranks, and positions.
The second batch of more than 1,000 names was released on Sunday evening, this time officers were named in the western Belarus city of Brest as the leakers claimed the policeman was particularly ruthless.
The government said it would find and punish those responsible for leaking data on police officers, which were distributed via the popular chat app Telegram on Saturday.
“The powers, means and technologies at the disposal of the internal affairs bodies make it possible to identify and prosecute the vast majority of those guilty of leaking personal data on the Internet,” said Olga Chemodanova, a spokeswoman for the Belarusian Minister of Internal Affairs. .
Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya praised the women’s march in a video statement from Lithuania, as she fled after being detained inside a government election office after the election.
Speaking to Sky News, Ms. Tikhanovskaya said she was You’re not ready to talk about what happened yet Her during her detention.
It is believed that she was threatened with separation from her two young children, who had already moved to Lithuania.
“They feared the women and pressured the women for a second month, but despite this, Belarusians continue their peaceful protest and demonstrate their amazing resilience,” Ms. Tikanovskaya said of Saturday’s rally.
The Belarusian government reacted angrily to reports that Ms. Tikanovskaya might soon meet with European Union foreign ministers.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized the European Union and accused Brussels of trying to “disturb the boat” in Belarus, which Moscow considers a strategic buffer zone against the European Union and NATO.
Accusing the United States of fomenting revolution in Minsk, Russia agreed to grant a $ 1.5 billion (£ 1.16 billion) loan to support the Lukashenko government after a meeting with Putin.
Belarus will spend $ 330 million (£ 255 million) of the money it received to cover its owed debt to the Russian gas giant Gazprom, according to Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov.
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