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Prostests persist, economic hardship felt, solidarity strengthens – Belarus Civil Society Digest

For 27 days in a row, Belarusians continue protesting against election results and police violence. The most powerful street actions take place on Sundays and gather up to 300,000 people in Minsk and dozens of thousands in other cities....

For 27 days in a row, Belarusians continue protesting against election results and police violence. The most powerful street actions take place on Sundays and gather up to 300,000 people in Minsk and dozens of thousands in other cities. Last Sunday, on August 30th, a massive rally reached the Palace of Independence to “congratulate” Lukashenka on his 66th birthday. In response, Lukashenka’s press service posted a photo of him carrying a machine gun.

  • Protests and solidarity actions across the country continue with different social groups involved – famous athletesshowbiz celebrities, studentswomenprivate business, including IT companies and others. The government responds with mass detentions and dismissals – students are detained right in the universities’ premises, disloyal university rectors are fired, the IT company that earlier offered financial help to resigned security officials was searched.
  • Strikes. Due to intimidation and new arrests of the leaders, the national strike has not materialized so far. However, the protest is intensifying and taking on different forms – workers quit pro-state trade unions and GONGOs, continue an “Italian strike”, while new industries join the protests. Belarus Solidarity Foundation has collected $2 million and started payments in Bitcoins for protesting workers.
  • Economic hardship. The financial system is in crisis due to the outflow of deposits from banks and the National Bank’s tightening of conditions for providing liquidity. The National Bank admits downgrade of the credit rating of Belarus. In August, gold and foreign exchange reserves of Belarus collapsed by $1,354 billion – this is an absolute anti-record for the entire period of keeping statistics on reserves.
  • Civil society continues monitoring and providing financial and other support to victims of repression. EaP CSF Monitoring Mission concludes that the presidential election cannot be considered free or fair. Honest People a national campaign to recall MPs with creating Telegram voter chats in each of 110 constituencies. The By_Help has completed its historical Facebook campaign with over $2,8 million raised from 68,000 supporters and continues fundraising on PayPal.
  • Coordination Council continues to urge the Belarusian authorities to engage in dialogue, however, so far there is no positive response. Three of the seven Council’s leaders are arrested in administrative or criminal cases. One of the Council’s leaders Maria Kolesnikova announced creating a new political party.
  • Crackdown on independent media. Over 70 websites are blocked in the territory of Belarus, including some mainstream independent media “for a negative spin on the current situation in Belarus”. In August, 151 journalists were detained. At least 17 journalists of foreign media were withdrawn of press accreditations. For the first time, journalists had to demonstrate in front of the Interior Ministry protesting against the prolonged detention of six journalists.
  • Repressions. In its August monitoring, HRC Viasna observes a deep human rights crisis in the country, which affects almost every aspect of civil and political rights. Belarusian citizen and Head of Belarusian Catholic Church was denied entry to Belarus without explanation. During the post-election protests, over 8,100 people were detained. The number of political prisoners has increased to 50 persons, including 9 new political prisoners this week. UN reports 450 cases of torture and 6 missing after protests.

Belarus Digest prepared this overview on the basis of materials provided by Pact. This digest attempts to give a richer picture of the recent political and civil society events in Belarus. It often goes beyond the hot stories already available in English-language media.

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