10/12/2020, 11.57
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Minsk: for the first time Lukashenko meets imprisoned opponents

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The meeting exalted as "dialogue with all" the opponents. Svetlana Tikhanovskaja, moral winner of the elections: "If you really want dialogue, the first thing to do is to free them." Tens of thousands of people at the Pride March. 250 participants arrested, including 30 journalists.

Minsk (AsiaNews) - On 10 October, following two months of protests against the fraudulent result of the presidential elections and after much violence, the Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko went to the KGB detention and isolation centre in Minsk, and met with his opponents for the first time.

The first among them the presidential candidate, Viktor Babariko, who was expelled and imprisoned by him even before the elections on 9 August last (photo 3). The news was released by the Telegram channel Pul pervogo, without details on the contents of the dialogue.

Babariko's son, Eduard, who had been detained with his father since last June 18, as well as Lilja Vlasova, a member of the Opposition Coordination Committee, the entrepreneur Jurij Voskresenskij and the political scientist Vitalij Shkljarov, also all jailed before the elections (photo 4) were also present at the meeting.

The only official comment was that "the president intends to listen to everyone's opinion". But for many such a comment rings hollow and somewhat grotesque.

Lukashenko has long rejected all rights of opponents, and now speaks with them in a solitary cell, in a prison where Babariko's staff manager Maria Kolesnikova is also found, accused of subversion against the state and arrested at the beginning of September.

Indeed, the main candidate and moral winner of the elections, Svetlana Tikhanovskaja, commented that "dialogue does not take place in prison cells". Forced into exile in Lithuania, Tikhanovskaja published the content of her interview with her husband, blogger Sergej Tikhanovskij, who in turn was detained in Minsk since last July, to indicate the profound unity that exists among the representatives of the opposition, be they in exile or in prisons.

"With this meeting, Lukashenko acknowledged the existence of political prisoners, whom until yesterday he simply called criminals; but if you really want dialogue, the first thing to do is to free them,” Tikhanovskaya said.

On the same day, the Pride March began in Minsk (photo 1). It is organized by various Belarusian bloggers and by the exponents of the Charter 97 opposition group, born in these months of protests in imitation of the famous Charter 77 of dissidents in communist Czechoslovakia.

The demonstration took place on Saturday 10 October with the "Mass procession of women with flowers against political repression" in which hundreds of women took part, one of the most typical expressions of the Belarusian protests of recent months (photo 2).

By the end of yesterday, over 250 participants, including about 30 journalists, were detained by the police. Despite the increasingly total and widespread repressive measures, tens of thousands of people continue to participate in these demonstrations.

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