MINSK, October 20. /TASS/. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has warned opposition activists who stage protest rallies in Minsk every Sunday that the authorities are determined to restore order.
"Order will be restored in Minsk on Sunday. Because they stage marches typically on Sunday. Well, they have demonstrated what they want. You have seen that too. Well, we will now explain everything one more time, warn them and will not indulge in soothing," BelTA news agency quoted him as saying at a meeting with university rectors.
According to the president, students who take part in protests should be face with a choice: either to continue studying or be called up for military service. "As rectors, you must be the first to say how many young people don’t want to study. Well, if they don’t want it, that’s their business. Let them choose - either the army, or work, or else. It’s their right to choose, especially now," Lukashenko said.
He stressed that the authorities are not against opponents but it is inadmissible to violate the law and students should be faced with a choice. "If you want to study, do it, if you don’t - you’d better go," he said.
Nationwide demonstrations have engulfed Belarus following the August 9 presidential election. According to the Central Election Commission’s official results, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won by a landslide, garnering 80.10% of the vote. His closest rival in the race, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, came in second, with 10.12% of the ballot. However, she refused to recognize the election’s outcome, and left Belarus for Lithuania. After the results of the exit polls were announced late on August 9, mass protests erupted in downtown Minsk and other Belarusian cities. During the early post-election period, the rallies snowballed into fierce clashes between the protesters and police. The current unrest is being cheered on by the opposition’s Coordination Council, which has been beating the drum for more protests. In response, the Belarusian authorities have castigated the ongoing turmoil and demanded that these unauthorized demonstrations be stopped.