On September 20th, large protests took place in Belarus’ capital Minsk, once again, against President Alexander Lukashenko.
The latest opposition protest began in the morning with the opposition calling on social media for demonstrators to gather in central Minsk as well as in other cities.
The protest came a day after officers detained hundreds of demonstrators at a women’s march in the capital.
Among the detained was Nina Bahinskaya, a 73-year-old great-grandmother who has become an icon of the protest movement.
Around 2,000 people, mostly women, joined the September 19th march, which has become a weekly prelude to mass demonstrations every Sunday. They briefly scuffled with police who then blocked their path and started picking people one by one.
Police detained so many protesters that they ran out of room in vans and had to free some of the women, according to AFP news agency.
Video posted by the opposition-aligned Tut.by website showed a masked officer abruptly removing the flag and flowers she was carrying as she was pushed into a van.
She was later released, and she even held a little speech in front of a group of protesters who were in front of the building she was kept in.
In response of the reportedly “aggressive” police response, the opposition Telegram channel – Nexta Live, which is being operated out of Poland began sharing what it said was a list of the names and ranks of more than 1,000 police officers.
The personal data of the police personnel were allegedly received from anonymous hackers.
“As the arrests continue, we will continue to publish data on a massive scale,” said a statement on the messaging app on evening. “No one will remain anonymous even under a balaclava.”
Protesters have sought to expose the identity of police officers who appear at demonstrations in plain-clothes or in uniforms without insignia or name badges, trying to pull off their masks and balaclavas.
Belarusian interior ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova said police detained 415 people in Minsk, and 15 in other cities, for breaking rules on mass demonstrations. She said 385 had been released.
The government said it would find and punish those behind the data leak.
“The forces, means and technologies at the disposal of the internal affairs bodies make it possible to identify and prosecute the overwhelming majority of those guilty of leaking personal data on the Internet,” said Chemodanova.
In a video, opposition leader in exile, from Lithuania, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya urged her fellow Belarusians to continue fighting for a country in which it is worth living in the so-called “March of Justice”.
“Every week you show yourself and the world that the Belarusian people are a force,” the 38-year-old said.
She is to meet EU Foreign Ministers on September 21st as the bloc prepares sanctions against those it blames for rigging the election and the violent crackdown on protesters.
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