Today's Paper Latest Elections Coronavirus 🔵 Covid Classroom Cooking Families Core values Story ideas iPad Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive
ADVERTISEMENT
story.lead_photo.caption Women wave Belarusian flags Thursday in Minsk, as they listen to President Alexander Lukashenko during a women’s forum. More photos at arkansasonline.com/918belarus/. (AP/TUT.by)

KYIV, Ukraine -- Belarus' president, beleaguered by six weeks of mass protests demanding his resignation, on Thursday announced that he was putting troops on high alert and closing the country's borders with Poland and Lithuania.

President Alexander Lukashenko's decision underlines his repeated claim that the wave of protests is driven by the West. He faces increasing criticism from the United States and the European Union.

Protests began after the Aug. 9 presidential election that official results say gave the authoritarian leader a sixth term in office. Opponents say the results were manipulated.

"We are forced to withdraw troops from the streets, put the army on high alert and close the state border on the west, primarily with Lithuania and Poland," Lukashenko said at a women's forum.

Lukashenko also said Belarus' border with Ukraine would be strengthened.

"I don't want my country to be at war. Moreover, I don't want Belarus and Poland, Lithuania to turn into a theater of military operations where our issues will not be resolved," he said. "Therefore, today in front of this hall of the most beautiful, advanced, patriotic people I want to appeal to the peoples of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine -- stop your crazy politicians, don't let war break out!"

[Video not showing up above? Click here to view » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McRs76J-QYI]

He did not mention neighboring Latvia, which like Poland and Lithuania is a NATO member.

Earlier Thursday, the main opposition candidate in the disputed presidential election said activists are compiling a list of law enforcement officers who were reportedly involved in violence against protesters denouncing the results of the vote.

Nearly 7,000 people were detained, and hundreds were beaten by police during the first several days of postelection protests.

Lukashenko's main challenger in the election, former English teacher and political novice Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, said "we have been given the names of those who were beating and torturing people. We are preparing a list of officials and law enforcement officers who have taken part in lawless repressions."

Human rights groups are working with opposition activists to identify the officers and officials, Tsikhanouskaya said, adding that the list will be shared with the United States, the European Union and Russia.

Gallery: Belarus' president leads women's forum amid protests

[Gallery not loading above? Click here for more photos » arkansasonline.com/918belarus/]

The U.S. and the EU have criticized the presidential election as neither free nor fair, and urged Lukashenko to start talks with the opposition -- a call he has rejected. Washington and Brussels have been pondering sanctions against Belarusian officials over reported vote-rigging and the violent response to protests.

On Thursday, the European Parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution rejecting the official election results and saying it would not recognize Lukashenko as the legitimate president once his current term expires Nov. 5.

Belarus' foreign ministry responded strongly, saying: "We are disappointed that the European Parliament, positioning itself as a serious, objective and democratic structure, could not find the political will to look beyond its nose, overcome one-sidedness and not become a hostage to conventional cliches."

Russia, Lukashenko's main ally and sponsor, has maintained staunch support for the Belarusian leader. Moscow announced this week that it would offer a new $1.5 billion loan to his government.

Information for this article was contributed by Vladimir Isachenkov, Jim Heintz and Monika Scislowska of The Associated Press.

Riot police officers detain a protester during a Belarusian opposition supporters' rally protesting the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. More than 100,000 demonstrators calling for the authoritarian president's resignation marched in the Belarusian capital on Sunday as the daily protests that have gripped the nation entered their sixth week. (AP Photo)
Riot police officers detain a protester during a Belarusian opposition supporters' rally protesting the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. More than 100,000 demonstrators calling for the authoritarian president's resignation marched in the Belarusian capital on Sunday as the daily protests that have gripped the nation entered their sixth week. (AP Photo)
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko speaks during a meeting with the country's political activists in Minsk, Belarus, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020.(Maxim Guchek/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko speaks during a meeting with the country's political activists in Minsk, Belarus, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020.(Maxim Guchek/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)
Protesters march during an opposition supporters rally in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. Protests calling for the Belarusian president's resignation have broken out daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election that officials say handed him a sixth term in office. (Tut.by via AP)
Protesters march during an opposition supporters rally in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. Protests calling for the Belarusian president's resignation have broken out daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election that officials say handed him a sixth term in office. (Tut.by via AP)
A woman covered herself by an old Belarusian national flag kneels in front of a riot police line as they block Belarusian opposition supporters rally protesting the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. Protests calling for the Belarusian president's resignation have broken out daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election that officials say handed him a sixth term in office. (TUT.by via AP)
A woman covered herself by an old Belarusian national flag kneels in front of a riot police line as they block Belarusian opposition supporters rally protesting the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. Protests calling for the Belarusian president's resignation have broken out daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election that officials say handed him a sixth term in office. (TUT.by via AP)
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko addresses a women's forum in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Lukashenko has given a speech at a women's forum with some good quotes—he's announced Belarus will close the border with Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania, and is mobilizing half the army. (BelTA Pool Photo via AP)
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko addresses a women's forum in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Lukashenko has given a speech at a women's forum with some good quotes—he's announced Belarus will close the border with Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania, and is mobilizing half the army. (BelTA Pool Photo via AP)
Riot police officers detain a protester during a Belarusian opposition supporters' rally protesting the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. Protests calling for the Belarusian president's resignation have broken out daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election that officials say handed him a sixth term in office. (AP Photo)
Riot police officers detain a protester during a Belarusian opposition supporters' rally protesting the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. Protests calling for the Belarusian president's resignation have broken out daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election that officials say handed him a sixth term in office. (AP Photo)
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, former candidate for the Belarus' presidential elections speaks during a news conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. The top opposition candidate in Belarus' presidential election Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya who fled her homeland two weeks ago appeared before international media Friday afternoon demanding a new vote. "Those detained must be set free from prisons . New fair, free and transparent elections must be held. That is what people of Belarus want now". (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, former candidate for the Belarus' presidential elections speaks during a news conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. The top opposition candidate in Belarus' presidential election Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya who fled her homeland two weeks ago appeared before international media Friday afternoon demanding a new vote. "Those detained must be set free from prisons . New fair, free and transparent elections must be held. That is what people of Belarus want now". (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
Riot police officers detain a protester during a Belarusian opposition supporters' rally protesting the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. Protests calling for the Belarusian president's resignation have broken out daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election that officials say handed him a sixth term in office. (AP Photo)
Riot police officers detain a protester during a Belarusian opposition supporters' rally protesting the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. Protests calling for the Belarusian president's resignation have broken out daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election that officials say handed him a sixth term in office. (AP Photo)
Riot police officers detain a protester during a Belarusian opposition supporters' rally protesting the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. More than 100,000 demonstrators calling for the authoritarian president's resignation marched in the Belarusian capital on Sunday as the daily protests that have gripped the nation entered their sixth week. (AP Photo)
Riot police officers detain a protester during a Belarusian opposition supporters' rally protesting the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. More than 100,000 demonstrators calling for the authoritarian president's resignation marched in the Belarusian capital on Sunday as the daily protests that have gripped the nation entered their sixth week. (AP Photo)
ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsor Content

COMMENTS - It looks like you're using Internet Explorer, which isn't compatible with the Democrat-Gazette commenting system. You can join the discussion by using another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome.
It looks like you're using Microsoft Edge. The Democrat-Gazette commenting system is more compatible with Firefox and Google Chrome.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT