On August 23rd, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko began presumably cosplaying Colonel Walter E. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now (or presumably Kurtz from the novel Heart of Darkness, depending on preference).
With protesters being in front of the presidential palace and calling for him to give up power and organize new elections, he arrived with the presidential helicopter.
Notably, he was wearing a bulletproof vest and had an automatic rifle in his arms. This can be seen on the footage below:
⚡️ Президентский пул Лукашенко сообщает, что он прилетел во дворец, у которого собрались протестующие, ‼️ с оружием в руках и в бронежилете ‼️
— Алексей Новоселов (@novosyolov) August 23, 2020
He presumably could have also had no shirt on and only worn a bulletproof vest, but it appears that he has overlooked that detail.
There are several other videos of Lukashenko in the airplane, getting off it. Also of Lukashenko’s son – Nikolai, who is 15 years old.
He was also given an assault rifle by his father and was wearing a bulletproof vest.
There are also security guards and soldiers protecting him.
Later on, a photograph was released of the crisis center showing Lukashenko, his son, and presumably a presidential press secretary. Those are all of the members in the crisis center present at the event, as can be seen on the photograph below.
The Independence Palace in Minsk was closed off with a cordon of security personnel. Lukashenko went to the barricades to thank the troops for protecting him.
He thanked the security officials:
“Thank you, you are handsome!,” he said
“We are with you until the end!,” they replied, in a ridiculous exchange.
And it would appear that not all of this is without reason. Reportedly, the Ministry of Defense of Belarus recorded an attempt to violate Belarusian airspace from Lithuania.
This was reported in the department’s Telegram channel.
According to the ministry, the “provocation” took place on 23rd August at 19:30 in the village of Volkovschina, Oshmyany region, which borders Lithuania.
“A probe of eight balloons with anti-state symbols was launched from the adjacent territory,” the message said.
As such, it appears that the Baltic states believe that Belarus under Lukashenko is so far ‘lost’ that it is like North Korea and needs opposition leaflets dropped from across the border.
The flight of balloons was suppressed without the use of weapons thanks to the crews of MI-24 helicopters from the air defense forces on duty, the Defense Ministry said.
And to reinforce the notion that no external pressure is being exerted on Lukashenko and his aides, approximately 50,000 people formed a human chain from Vilnius to the Belarusian border to express solidarity with protests in the neighbouring country.
The president of the “Baltic superpower” was present to support the expression of solidarity to the Belarusian opposition.
This also took place on August 23rd, which is the anniversary of when in 1989 over a million people formed a human chain spanning Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to demand an end to the Soviet occupation.
An air balloon took off from Cathedral Square and take a 15-metre long Belarusian flag into the sky. It is also not the actual Belarusian flag, but the white-red-white flag used by opposition.
The Freedom Way was followed by a concert and TV marathon in the courtyard of Medininkai Castle. A fundraiser collected money for the BY Help organisation that “has been helping injured, detained and persecuted Belarusians and their families since 2017.”
“Freedom is not only a fundamental human right but also a nation’s fundamental right. It’s also a daily commitment to defend it from any attempt on it by those who would replace freedom with darkness, oppression ands fear,” said Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda.
“Thirty years ago Lithuania broke its shackles of oppression by forming the Baltic Way with its Latvian and Estonian brothers and showing the world that we are free and, first of all, free in our spirit,” he said.
“Today, time has come for our Belarusian brothers to say the dear word ‘Freedom’.”
No foreign meddling at all.
В Литве прошла акция «Путь свободы» — живая цепь людей соединила Вильнюс с границей с Беларусью. Это сделали в знак солидарности с жителями Беларуси, которые выступают за демократические перемены.
Фото: https://t.co/carCPBBmp0 pic.twitter.com/rIAuca6Ffb
— TUT.BY (@tutby) August 23, 2020
Lukashenko and his government clearly demonstrate that they are not going to submit to the foreign pressure and surrender the power to the pro-Western opposition. Meanwhile, the political and security situation in the country has been deteriorating.
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