A demonstrator arrested during the protests against the leadership in Belarus has died, according to the authorities. The cause of death of the 25-year-old is unclear, said the investigative committee. The media quoted the dead man's mother saying that he had heart problems and had been detained in a police car for hours. It is the second fatality since the beginning of the nationwide protests against the controversial re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko.
The young man was arrested on Sunday in an "unauthorized" demonstration against the presidential election in the city of Gomel and sentenced to ten days in prison, the committee said. In custody he "suddenly felt worse". The time of his death was initially known.
In Belarus there have been massive protests for days against the presidential election on Sunday, which was accompanied by allegations of electoral fraud and against which the security forces are using stun grenades and rubber bullets. In the southern Belarusian city of Brest, the police even shot demonstrators with live ammunition, according to the Interior Ministry. At least one person was injured.
A demonstrator had already been killed in the capital Minsk on Monday - according to government information because an explosive device exploded in his hands. At least 250 injured were admitted to hospital. Thousands of demonstrators have been arrested since Sunday.
New protests despite police violence
In protest against police violence, hundreds of women dressed in white formed a human chain in Minsk on Wednesday. Several independent channels of the news service Telegram showed on videos how people in Minsk, Grodno, Brest and other cities called for Lukashenko to end the violence and to cede. At the same time, solidarity with the demonstrators grew. In Minsk, more than 100 doctors spoke out against violence.
Internationally, sharp criticism of the Belarusian authorities' actions was expressed. At a video conference on Friday, the EU foreign ministers discussed the possible reintroduction of punitive measures against Belarus. The federal government denounced a "wave of repression" in the authoritarian country.
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed "very great concern". US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for the protection of "non-violent demonstrators". UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet accused Belarus of using "unnecessary and excessive force". Lithuania, Latvia and Poland presented a mediation plan between Lukashenko and the opposition.
Meanwhile, the opposition politician Maria Kalesnikawa spoke out against Western sanctions. "It's not a productive way," she told Cicero magazine . "Something like that doesn't work against a dictator." Only the will of the people could induce Lukashenko to call new, free elections and release the political prisoners. Kalesnikawa called on Lukashenko to "stop the bloodbath" and "listen to the people". Lukashenko downplayed the protest against him. "The core of these so-called demonstrators are people with criminal backgrounds and those who are currently unemployed," he said.