The opponents of the ruler Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus (Belarus) have called for an extension of the strikes in state-owned companies across the country.
“Strikes are a completely legal and important weapon against the regime,” said the leader of the democracy movement, Svetlana Tichanovskaya, in a video appeal to employees of the state-owned companies in the ex-Soviet republic on Friday.
The strikes, which have been going on for days, are intended to deprive the power apparatus of its economic base. From her exile in the EU’s neighboring country Lithuania, Tichanovskaya appealed to her compatriots not to be intimidated by threats from Lukashenko.
The authoritarian leadership has threatened workers with firing if they stop working. The opposition, on the other hand, speaks of a right to strike.
“Get together!” Said Tichanovskaya. Even now people would have achieved a lot through unity. At the same time, she again pledged aid to those who were in need of existence as a result of the strikes. A sum of millions has now been raised to help those in need. The willingness to donate to the solidarity fund was therefore high.
Lukashenko, whom she never mentions by name, tries to steal the land from the people. “In order to end the arbitrariness, we have to unite,” said Tichanovskaya. The goals of the opposition are an end to violence against those who think differently, the release of all political prisoners and fair and free new elections for the presidency.
The opposition is summoned by the Attorney General
To this end, Tichanovskaya founded a coordination council last Saturday to represent the opposition and “the Belarusian people.” On Thursday, members of the council were summoned for talks by the Interior Ministry and the General Prosecutor’s Office.
The first meetings already started on Friday morning: The lawyer Maxim Znak and the representative of the striking workers at the state enterprise MTZ, Siarhei Dyleuski, already appeared before the National Investigation Committee in Minsk. More members are still expected.
Observers fear that the subpoenas are not, as the Coordination Council has requested, because of talks about the future of the country – but that members of the Coordination Council could be arrested.
The Belarusian General Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation against the opposition members the day before. The allegation is that they undermine national security and violate the constitution. If convicted, government critics face up to five years in prison.
Lukashenko had declared himself the winner with 80 percent of the vote on August 9th. The opposition sees Tichanovskaya as the new president.
Meanwhile, panic spread among the population that accounts could be blocked to prevent transfers in support of the democracy movement. There have been numerous reports of citizens emptying their accounts for fear of such government action.
There was no official confirmation. Street protests against Lukashenko were also planned across the country in Minsk on Friday. In addition, Lukashenko’s supporters repeatedly demonstrate.