The opposition in Belarus has called for new demonstrations against authoritarian President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s regime on Thursday.
Opposition to the long-serving president has diminished in recent months after severe repression by the regime.
In August, after the elections, mass demonstrations took place in Belarus. President Lukashenko then claimed victory, claiming a sixth term in office. According to the opposition and the West, Lukashenko had won the election through ballot box fraud.
The demonstrations took place weekly and lasted for months. The protest marches sometimes drew up to 100,000 participants. Lukashenko’s iron grip on the former Soviet Republic seemed to weaken for a time. Still, with massive arrests that resulted in hundreds of people being tortured in captivity, the regime crushed the opposition.
Lukashenko’s challenger in the recent elections, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, now hopes that spring will give pro-opposition protesters fresh hope. “The whole world believes in you,” she wrote Tuesday on messaging platform Telegram. She called on Belarusians to “take the future into their own hands” and demonstrate again this spring.
When the opposition hopes that Belarusians will return to mass demonstrations, Thursday is also Belarusian Freedom Day, which celebrates the country’s declaration of independence in 1918.