After huge mass protest following deeply flawed presidential elections, the Belarusian leader is issuing bellicose statements and his security forces are back on the streets in force.
Lukashenko on Wednesday tried to shift the narrative, denouncing the protests as being backed by foreign interests and warning of a potential attack on Belarus.
Police appeared near the gates of Minsk Tractor Works Wednesday morning, dispersing and detaining people gathered to support striking workers. Authorities have also stepped up pressure on employees of other major factories, threatening them with fines and layoffs.
The opposition has tried to seize the initiative, forming a Coordination Council. It includes well-known activists, businesspeople and artists such as Svetlana Aleksievich, the Nobel literature laureate.
The pressing problem for the opposition is to ensure that the momentum of protests doesn’t flag. On Tuesday, independent trade unions announced the formation of a national strike committee to coordinate action across the country.
A strike by employees at the state-controlled media has fizzled. Despite several high-profile journalists walking off the air, television is still a full-throated supporter of Lukashenko.
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