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Factory Workers Reject Lukashenko’s Visit as Protests Grow

August 17, 2020, 11.33 PM

MINSK, - President Alexander Lukashenko is coming under immense pressure to step down as protests in Belarus continue for a ninth straight day.

Protestors are calling the results of the Belarus presidential election on August 9 as rigged and have demanded that the President step down after 26 years in office.

Alexander Lukashenko flew by helicopter to Minsk in an effort to gather support, but his presence was met with the opposite response.

Read also: Protests in Belarus Following Disputed Presidential Election Results

Angry workers chanting “Go away!” greeted the Belarusian authoritarian leader. Factory workers also heckled and jeered at the President during his visit.

He told the workers: “I will never cave in to pressure.”

Lukashenko said the country could have a new presidential election, but only after approving an amended version of its constitution — an apparent bid to buy some time amid the growing political crisis.

He told the factory workers that those who intend to strike could leave if they want, but he added that the protests are ruining the economy and said the country would collapse if he steps down.

“Some of you might have got the impression that the government no longer exists, that it has tumbled down. The government will never collapse, you know me well," the 65-year-old former state farm director shouted.

“There will be no new election until you kill me," Lukashenko proclaimed.

Read also: Opposition Candidate in Belarus Election Flees to Lithuania

He said the demonstrators have been “poisoned by social networks”, but vaguely suggested that he’s open for discussions on constitutional reforms in an apparent bid to stem the protests.

As he spoke, over 5,000 striking workers from the Minsk Tractor Plant marched down the streets of the city, joining an increasing number of state-controlled factories across the nation of 9.5 million in walking off the job.

The strikes follow peaceful post-election demonstrations last week that were met by a brutal police crackdown with rubber bullets, tear gas, clubs and stun grenades.

At least 7,000 were detained, with many complaining they were beaten mercilessly. One protester was killed and hundreds were wounded.


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