BELARUSIAN leader Alexander Lukashenko has finally given some ground as he said he would be willing to share power amid protests and riots sweeping the nation.
Lukashenko – known as Europe’s last dictator – has been facing extreme pressure to step aside after being declared the victor in allegedly rigged election.
Alexander Lukashenko offered some ground to the opposition[/caption]
Lukashenko’s regime has been brutally cracking down on protesters [/caption]
His regime has since been brutally silencing critics with heavy handed police tactics on the streets and reports of hideous torture in detention centres.
With anger and international pressure growing, Lukashenko finally offered some ground to the opposition as he was admitted he was willing to change the constitution.
The ex-Soviet strongman leader however refused to bow to widespread protests and said there will be no new elections following the disputed vote on August 9.
“We held elections already. Until you kill me, there will be no other elections,” he said.
Lukashenko – who has ruled Belarus for 26 years – faced heckles of “step down” during the speech at a state-run industrial plant as he pledged to put changes in the constitution to a referendum.
The flimsy olive branch is unlikely to satisfy protesters and the opposition who have already seen one vote allegedly rigged against them.
He said: “Yes, I’m not a saint. You know my harsh side. I’m not eternal.
“But if you drag down the first president you’ll drag down neighbouring countries and all the rest.”
Hundreds of thousands have hit the streets, state workers have gone on strike, 6,700 people have been detained, and the internet has been cut off by the regime.
Lukashenko has mocked the violence carried out by his security forces, saying it was justified as protesters attacked police.
The international community is nervously eying the crisis and have condemned the dictator – with Russia offering to step in to help prop up Lukashenko.
Riot police have beaten demonstrators calling for Lukashenko to step down[/caption]
Runnng battles have been seen in Minsk[/caption]
Protesters are calling for regime change in Belarus[/caption]
Protesters man a barricade in battles with police[/caption]
Lukashenko called for an end to the protesters[/caption]
EU leaders are set to hold emergency talks by video conference on Wednesday as European Council chief Charles Michel said violence against protesters was “unacceptable”.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has also taken a stand against the brutality being inflicted in Belarus – saying the UK does not accept the result of the election.
He said: “The world has watched with horror at the violence used by the Belarusian authorities to suppress the peaceful protests that followed this fraudulent Presidential election.
“The UK does not accept the results. We urgently need an independent investigation through the OSCE into the flaws that rendered the election unfair, as well as the grisly repression that followed.
“The UK will work with our international partners to sanction those responsible, and hold the Belarusian authorities to account.”
EU leaders have called on Russia to “refrain from any interference” after it was warned Vladimir Putin could send troops to help out Lukashenko.
Workers have gone on strike amid the unrest sweeping Belarus[/caption]
Opposition rallies have swelled in size as they unite under Belarus’s former red and white flag[/caption]
Lukashenko is facing pressure both domestic and internal to step down[/caption]
Hundreds of thousands of people have hit the streets in Belarus[/caption]
Opposition representative Maria Kolesnikova speaks with a megaphone[/caption]
Moscow has a vested interest in neighbouring Belarus and Putin was quick to congratulate Lukashenko on his victory.
Putin has showed before he will stop at nothing to make sure Russia’s neighbours are run by his friends.
The Kremlin said in a statement Putin and Lukashenko agreed to “comprehensive assistance to maintain security in Belarus”in talks oN sunday.
Lithuania’s foreign minister Linas Linkevicius warned any Russian intervention would “constitute an invasion”.
He said: Russia would risk a lot if it did it, in the face of what is going on in Belarus, in the face of the popular support.
“It should figure out that an invasion would not be justified, neither legally, nor morally, nor politically.”
Svetlana Tikhanovskay has offered to lead an interim government to set out new elections[/caption]
Belarus’ electoral commission said Lukashenko won last week’s vote in a landslide – securing 80 per cent of the vote over highly popular opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
Tikhanovskaya, 37, a former English teacher, who emerged from obscurity to become Lukashenko’s main rival – with her rallies drawing some of the biggest crowds since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
After the election, she said she considered herself the winner and alleged the vote had been rigged before she fled to Lithuania.
She has said in a video message that she is ready to step in to become a “national leader” and promised to hold new election and free political prisoners.
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Lukashenko, 64, has been widely condemned for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic which he said could be treated with saunas and vodka.
He has has cast himself as a guarantor of stability but has battled a wave of anger over the the economy, his human rights record and allegations of corruption.
He dismissed his opposition candidate Ms Tikhanovskaya as a “poor little girl”, manipulated by foreign “puppet masters”.
And he also blasted reports of his government imposing repressive measures as “fake news or far-fetched accusations”.