Belarussian opposition presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya holds major rally in Minsk

Monday, August 3, 2020 On Thursday, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, an opposition candidate for the Belarusian presidential election to be held on August 9, held a rally in Minsk, Belarus. The rally was visited by several tens of thousands of people, and was reportedly one of the biggest political events in Belarus in a decade.

According to reports from the ministry of internal affairs of Belarus on Friday, and Vyasna, an independent Belarusian human rights center, on Thursday, around 18,250 to 63,000 visitors attended the rally. A main issue discussed was the liberation of political prisoners arrested during the campaign.

The rally started around 18:00 local time (1500 UTC). During the first two hours, friends and relatives of political prisoners spoke. Belarusian musicians made performances between their speeches.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya arrived at at about 20:00. She spoke about her husband Siarhei, who was arrested in May, and promised to conduct new completely fair elections and hold a constitutional referendum to cancel all amendments issued by the current president, Alexander Lukashenko, since 1995. She asked for support, specially asking voters to vote at the polls, not before election day. Maria Kalesnikava spoke, who headed the campaign of Viktar Babaryka, who was arrested and banned from the election; and Veranika Tsapkala, wife of Valery Tsapkala, a potential presidential candidate who fled the country.

Within roughly a day before the event, Belarusian KGB arrested 33 Russian individuals, claiming them to be mercenaries, who allegedly were preparing to organize "terrorism" in association with the election. The government strengthened security measures during the rally.

(Image: Homoatrox)
(Image: Homoatrox)
The white-red-white flag, the official flag of Belarus in 1991–1995, is associated with anti-Lukashenko ideas. (Image: Homoatrox)
(Image: Homoatrox)
Arrival of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. (Image: Homoatrox)
Fences were installed and checkpoints with security checks organized. (Image: Homoatrox)
Additional patrols of police (militsiya) were dispatched to the rally. (Image: Homoatrox)