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Lukashenko vows authorities will ‘deal with’ protest pressure at factory entrances

The Belarusian leader thanked workers who did not join the strikes

MINSK, August 19. /TAS/. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has thanked workers who did not join the strikes and promised to "deal with" those protesters who wait for and converge on laborers at factory entrances.

"Threats against and attacks on factory workers - that worries us too," he emphasized at a meeting of the Belarusian Security Council on Wednesday. "Before and after the working day, they have to pass through a corridor lined by aggressive crowds at entrances, [who are] just like the Gestapo. I just want to tell these workers that [I] express my gratitude to them and ask them not to bury their heads in the sand. You, workers, are the masters at this plant, and we will deal with those protesters who wait for you at the entrance," BelTA news agency quotes the president as saying.

Belarus held its presidential election on August 9. According to the Central Election Commission’s final data, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won 80.10% of the vote, whereas Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who was considered his key rival, garnered 10.12% of the ballot. Subsequently, she refused to recognize the outcome of the polls.

After the results of exit polls were announced late on August 9, mass protests flared up in downtown Minsk and other cities, which spiraled into clashes with police. The protests continued for several days and, according to the Interior Ministry, over 6,000 people ended up in custody.

Against this backdrop, workers at large enterprises have expressed their dissatisfaction with the situation and have held rallies demanding new elections and a probe into police actions. The opposition has been pushing factory workers to strike.