8 years after Ploshcha: Most violent dispersal of peaceful protesters in Belarus

19 December 2010, the presidential election day, split the life of contemporary Belarusian society into two parts: ‘before’ and ‘after’. Eight years ago, Belarusians started protesting against election fraud in Minsk.

As the Central Election Commission reported, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the first and still the only president of Belarus, won 79.65% of votes whereas the rest of candidates did not even reach 3%.

By various estimates, 15,000-100,000 peaceful protesters took to the streets. Police let the protesters march from Kastrychnitskaya Square to Independence Square (‘Ploshcha’) and start a rally there. There the protesters came across the wall of special operations soldiers and convoy of prison trucks.

An hour later. a group of people tried to enter a government building and broke some glass, which might well have been a provocation. Hundreds of participants were severely beaten, including young girls and seniors. After brutal crackdown nearly 800 persons, including presidential candidates and reporters, were put behind bars.

A number of politicians, activists and journalists were sentenced to prison terms. The European Union and the United States did not accept the elections and repeatedly called the Belarusian authorities to release the political prisoners. It is interesting that according to CIS observers, the presidential elections were fair and transparent. In the wake of unprecedented political persecution in the country, the West imposed sanctions on the Belarusian authorities.

Enough! To Freedom…