MINSK, October 26. /TASS/. More than 1,000 people are taking part in a march of pensioners in Minsk against the current Belarusian authorities, a TASS correspondent reported from the site.
The march started from Minsk’s central Independence Square, where they held a rally chanting the slogans "Together We Are Strong" and "Strike." The protesters are marching along Independence Avenue and are being joined by more and more people, including students of the Belarusian State University located in the vicinity. Traffic along Independence Avenue is not smooth, with cars honking horns in solidarity with the demonstrators.
The deadline for the opposition-led People’s Ultimatum expired on Sunday, October 25, put forward by now exiled, former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya to President Alexander Lukashenko. The demands included the resignation of the incumbent president, the release of political prisoners and an end to violence. The opposition called on workers at industrial enterprises to go on strike starting Monday, October 26, if these demands are not met.
Workers at some enterprises have stopped doing their job but the authorities claim that "all enterprises of Belarus’ real sector of the economy are operating routinely, production lines have not been stopped." Protest actions are being held in Minsk and other Belarusian cities in various formats, including solidarity chains, sit-in strikes, rallies and road blocking. Some private sector companies have joined the strike.
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.