19 June is the last day of collecting signatures for potential presidential candidates in Belarus. Yesterday, the line stretched for several kilometers and lasted for almost seven hours. People expressed their support with detained activists and politicians, including several presidential candidates.
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Those willing to sign for the candidates have started to gather near the Belarusian State Philharmonic in Minsk at about 6 pm. At the same time, journalists have reported problems with the internet and mobile connection, live streams have been disrupted.
Nikolai Kozlov, the chairman of the United Civil Party (UCP), was the first one who started to collect signatures. Most likely, Yuri Gubarevich, the leader of the For Freedom movement, will not be able to attend the picket.
Today, he was sentenced to 15 days of arrest for participating in a legal picket earlier. Olga Kovalkova, the co-chairman of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party (BCD), has also joined the picketing event.
“I came today because I was very impressed with how many people gathered yesterday,” Maxim from Minsk says. “I think people are so unhappy because Lukashenko was unprofessional in the situation with the coronavirus. It’s not even about quarantine. Just don’t lie to people that this is not a problem, that this is psychosis. The elderly listen to this, ignore precautionary measures and get infected.”
At 7 pm people are seen standing in line along the avenue and applauding, passing-by drivers are honking in solidarity. Local telegram channels also report people gathering in Gomel, Brest, Mogilev, Vitebsk, Pinsk, Bobruisk, Lida, Baranovichi and other cities.
At 7.43 TUT.BY readers have reported that a part of the road has been blocked, several metro stations have been closed. Riot police are pushing people to the Central Department Store. Four prisoner transport vehicles were spotted nearby. Police ask people to disperse.
At 8 pm local journalists (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, TUT.BY), as well as international reporters (Reuters) have been detained. Police also stop cars signaling in support of the detainees. Riot police officers reportedly keep detaining people in Minsk and other cities.
At 11 pm people keep standing along the streets of Belarusian cities clapping and chanting “Release”, “Babariko“, Shame”, “Freedom” and other slogans. Some of them gathered spontaneously, others moved to other locations after riot police charged at them to stop crowds forming.
At 11.30 pm cars keep honking, the mobile internet still doesnt work, police detain people individually. Meanwhile, more and more videos showing brutal detentions and people fighting back appear. The exact number and names of those detained remain unknown.
According to the Viasna human rights center, more than 40 people have been detained in Minsk by now. There are detainees in Bobruisk, Gomel, Vitebsk, Mogilev, Grodno and Novopolotsk.
The collection of signatures to nominate candidates for the post of the President of Belarus finishes on 19 June. At least 100,000 signatures are required for the candidate to get the right to run for the presidency.
The registration of potential candidate at the Central Election Comission (CEC) will be held from 5 to 14 July. The election campaign will start after that. The presidential election in Belarus is scheduled to take place on 9 August.
The article will be updated. Source: TUT.BY