News

Belarus: 6,000 arrests and 200 wounded as police admit to using live fire on protestors

Belarusian authorities have admitted to using live rounds of ammunition on protestors in the city of Brest as violent clashes erupted.

At least 200 protestors have been wounded, with around 6,000 arrests made, after violent protests broke out with police over Sunday’s election result.

belarus protests, belarus election, live ammunition, police violence, police brutality, eu foreign ministers,
Misha Friedman/Getty Images

Police in Belarus have admitted to using live ammunition on protestors as violent clashes erupt over what has been deemed a “neither free nor fair” election result.

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko was declared the winner of the election with 80% of the vote, amidst widespread allegations of vote-rigging and the EU condemning the vote as “neither free nor fair.” The main opposition to Mr Lukashenko, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, was detained shortly after the result was announced. She later fled Belarus to neighbouring Lithuania.

Protests on Tuesday night in the city of Minsk resulted in police firing tear gas and stun grenades at protestors, and allegedly beating them with batons. In a statement regarding Tuesday night’s protests in Brest, which saw police and security forces hurt, the interior ministry claimed the live-bullets were in self-defence. Interior ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova said, “A group of aggressive citizens with metal rods in their hands attacked police employees in Brest.”

Firearms were used to protect the lives and health of the employees,” she continued. The statement also confirmed that one of the protestors had been injured by the ammunition.

A 25-year-old protestor died on Sunday in the city of Gomel, with his mother telling Radio Liberty, “They refused to show me the body. I think he was severely beaten.” Protestors laying flowers and white ribbon at the spot of the man’s death were allegedly targeted by riot police.

In response, hundreds of women wearing white clothes and holding flowers gathered outside a prison on Wednesday in Minsk to call for an end to police violence.

There have also been reports of news-crews and journalists being subject to attacks by police, with a BBC team claiming to have had their government-issued accreditation taken from them while police attempted to break their camera.

EU foreign ministers are set to meet on Friday to discuss imposing sanctions on Belarus.