Situation in Minsk Calm after Protests against Lukashenko’s Inauguration

Belarus protests, illustration.

The situation in Minsk on Thursday morning is calm and nothing reminds of the protests that broke out on Wednesday after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s inauguration, TASS informed.

Traffic on central highways and roads leading to the downtown Belarusian capital is normal for a Thursday morning, according to a TASS correspondent. However, users of social networks report that in some Minsk neighborhoods drivers slowed down on purpose in order to create traffic jams.

No signs of Wednesday’s rallies were seen on Victors and Dzerzhinsky Avenues and other streets in central Minsk. A wire fence near the Minsk Hero City Obelisk has been removed. There are no restrictions for traffic on Independence Square. The Minsk metro is working as normal.

At noon on Wednesday Belarusian state media announced that Alexander Lukashenko had been sworn in at an unannounced inauguration ceremony in his residence in Minsk. In the evening hours, protesters took to the Minsk streets as the state television began broadcasting the ceremony. The protests were held in downtown Minsk and other areas of the city, including suburbs. The security forces used water cannons and tear gas. According to human rights activists, more than 200 people were detained at the rallies.

Nationwide demonstrations have engulfed Belarus following the August 9 presidential election. According to the Central Election Commission’s official results, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won by a landslide, garnering 80.10% of the vote. His closest rival in the race, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, came in second, with 10.12% of the ballot. However, she refused to recognize the election’s outcome, and left Belarus for Lithuania. After the results of the exit polls were announced late on August 9, mass protests erupted in downtown Minsk and other Belarusian cities. During the early post-election period, the rallies snowballed into fierce clashes between the protesters and police. The current unrest is being cheered on by the opposition’s Coordination Council, which has been beating the drum for more protests. In response, the Belarusian authorities have castigated the ongoing turmoil and demanded that these unauthorized demonstrations be stopped.