MINSK, November 23. /TASS/. Almost 350 people were detained on November 22 for violating mass gathering laws during protests in Belarus, the national Interior Ministry reported Monday.
"Overall, 345 people were detained in custodial facilities for violating the legislation on mass gatherings and until administrative offence hearings are held," the statement reads. "Probes are underway into active resistance to law enforcement officers and blocking of traffic."
The agency underlined that calls for mass rallies were not met with response by citizens in regions. "Despite the numerous calls of destructive Telegram channels to join protests, they were not met with the expected support of people in regions of the country apart from the capital," the statement notes. According to the ministry’s information, Minsk saw a different situation as protesters gathered in groups there despite warnings, with some of them stepping into car traffic lanes, blocking movement and disputing public order.
Belarus held presidential elections on August 9. 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, but they have been continuing for more than 3 months now.