8:05 am Breaking! The website of @svaboda was blocked by Belarus’ Ministry of Information along with 73 others. Full list is available here.
Besides news websites, VPN and secure mail services were blocked in Belarus including @PsiphonInc , @ProtonMail , @ZenMate , @TutanotaTeam , @safevpn, @SaferVPN and many others. Service for live streaming @LiveU is blocked too.
8:22 am Ukrainian miners won’t go to Belarus to work instead of the Belarusian strikers at Belaruskali. This statement was made by the leader of the independent Miners Trade Union of Ukraine, Mikhail Volynets, in his video address in response to the Lukasheko’s statement that “unemployed miners from Ukraine” can replace strikers at Belaruskali.
8:40 am Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya has released a video statement in which she, for the first time, openly endorsed an upcoming protest action: rally in Minsk this SundayShe appealed – also for the first time – to the memory of national hero Kastus Kalinouski.
9:30 am Internet blockage in Belarus during 9-12th August caused disruption of the Viber Messenger. The company considers reducing investments in the country and has closed down its Minsk office. The statement was made by the director general of Rakuten Viber, Jamal Agahua, during his interview with Forbes, “Maybe, if the situation does not improve, we won’t invest in Belarus. It may happen because we cannot invest in the country where people live in fear. It is not possible”.
9:50 am Under CASE Belarus initiative, 98 economists from 17 countries signed a petition to the Belarusian authorities. In their statement they warn about the fatal consequences for the economy if the negotiations [between the Coordinating Council and the authorities] don’t start and the authorities don’t restore respect of human and economic rights of the Belarusian people.
10:00 am Representatives of the Strike Committee at Belaruskali stated that the workers were so traumatized by the current events in the country that they are not able to continue their work.
10:28 am As reported by Radio Racyja about the recent pro-Lukashenko rally in Slonim, local authorities arranged for Slonim 11th mechanised brigade soldiers and officers to change into civilian clothes in order to create an impression of increased number of Lukashenko’s supporters at the rally. Details in the video.
11:00 am Russia started a hybrid operation to establish control over the media, public space, law-enforcement and administration sectors in Belarus. Belarusian TV which earlier was fully controlled by Belarus, now fell under the control of the Russian authorities. According to the iSANS analysts “Currently, within a short period of time Kremlin is planning to take over control of the key points of governance in Belarus, to launch full propaganda machine (TV as a priority) and decide what to do with Lukashenko next. Having opened doors to Russian hybrid intervention, Lukashenko himself plays little role in decision making. He probably hopes to return control by his repeated assurances of friendship and love to the neighbouring nation and signing anything ordered by the Kremlin. However, these illusions will disappear soon for everyone, except for the Kremlin, as the history of Belarus as a sovereign state may be over for a time being.”
11:56 am According to Nasha Niva, Belarusian artist and designer Vladimir Tsesler, a member of the Coordinating Council, has left Belarus following persistent “advice” from the authorities.
3:09 pm Lukashenko is currently manoeuvring to regain control over the rebellious city of Grodno. Last week the head of Grodno district gave an order to release all detained protesters. Today Lukashenko replaced him with a new governor and addressed a pro-government meeting in the city.
The key points of his speech (according to the State Agency BELTA):
- most of the photos of beaten protesters were fake.
- the incident in Grodno, when a police vehicle intentionally rammed a car and injured a 5-year old girl was not police violence but a car accident.
- a call to forgive government security services “even if they were a little bit heavy-handed”.
- the factories on strike will be shut down.
Meanwhile, the Prosecutor’s Office denied representatives of the Center of Human Rights, “Viasna”, information about casualty figures during non-violent protests, since this information “is not relevant to the personal interests of those representatives. “
3:36 pm State television station “Belarus1” has broadcast the meeting of Maryia Kalesnikava with people in Zhlobin, claiming that people were shouting at her “Go away!”. In fact, people were aiming the chants at Lukashenko.
3:55 pm It has been reported that Vadim Deviatkovskij’s brother, Oleg, has cut his veins and is at the hospital at the moment. Vadim Deviatkovskij is a hammer thrower, World champion, Olympic medalist, a former deputy of Belarusian Parliament, and high-profile supporter of Lukashenko. Yesterday he wrote on his Facebook page: “Lukashenko is not my president!”. According to Vadim, it was his brother Oleg, who asked him to post it.
4:20 pm Actions of solidarity with the victims of the protests on 9-11 August are being held today in many cities of Belarus, with the largest in Minsk. People are lining up along main streets of cities with posters denouncing violence, white-red-white flags and flowers.Passing traffic is beeping in support.
5:05 pm Andrei Ostapovich, a criminal investigator from Belarus, has been detained in Pskov (Russia). He recently quit his job in the Investigative Committee and proclaimed “exile the dictator!”. He tried to reach Latvia via Russia but was detained. At the moment he is in one of the police departments in Pskov and is being denied access to a lawyer. [Source: TUT.BY]
5:25 pm The action “Your cell” was held in Minsk. Its purpose was to recall the events of August 9-11 – the arrests and assaults of protesters.The dimensions of a detention cell were chalked on the pavement and ‘prisoners’ crowded inside it. They were holding posters with messages like: “Thanks for only raping us and not killing us.”
6:12 pm Maria Kolesnikova arrived to meet with protesters in Zhodzina. People chanted “We came here for free”, referencing Lukashenko’s prior claim that protesters were being paid to attend rallies. Kolesnikova said that regardless of which flag people choose to walk under, “we are together.” People have immediately responded to this call, and in Vawkavysk demonstrators marched under the two flags (previously the protesters were using the white-red-white and pro-Lukashenko demonstrators the red and green one). This is particularly important in light of state propaganda currently trying to worsen the split in civil society by opposing state and national symbols.
6:23 pm Lithuanian State Television has updated its logo to show solidarity with the Belarusians. And signs on public transport in Vilnius today say “Vilnius loves Belarus”. Tomorrow, the Belarusian diaspora and other residents of Lithuania intend to create a 30-kilometer chain of solidarity from the Sharp Gate in Vilnius to the border with Belarus.
6:46 pm In the regions
In Gomel and Mogilev, police made some attempts to prevent demonstrators from assembling. Large rallies in Brest, Soligorsk, Zhodzina and Minsk, as well as smaller ones in Zhytkavichi, Zhdanovichi, and Radashkovichi have been taking place without obstacles or conflicts.
6:55 pm The pressure on the Hrodna region keeps growing. Lukashenko has instructed the regional security officials to look for his mythical “militants” and “provocateurs”.
“Check everyone, with no exception. Not a single militant, not a single provocateur, not a single round of ammunition should get into our territory!” Unfortunately, there is reason to expect imminent mass arrests, terror and intimidation in the region.
7:14 pm In an interview with the Polish TV channel Belsat, Sviatlana Tsikhanovskaya spoke of her desire to come back to Belarus. However, she admitted that she would not be able to do so while Lukashenko remained in power. She also refused to refer to herself as the President, adding that she will not run for the office when new, fair elections are held.
7:38 pm The IT sector in Belarus seems to be, so to speak, “packed up and ready to go”. Last weekend, a part of the team of the British IT company Godel Technologies relocated to Ukraine for an indefinite period. According to the company’s management, this is a forced measure “to minimize risks related to the current situation in the country and, in particular, to the Internet outages of recent days that caused disruptions in the work process, problems in communication with clients and significant financial losses.”
8:00 pm Pavel Latushko, former Minister of Culture and director of the Janka Kupała National Theatre, met with the protestors in Independence Square in Minsk and gave his response to Lukashenko’s earlier statement. The president claimed that the reports of torture and beatings were “60% fake”. Latushko, in turn, described the current political situation as “legal anarchy”.He then restated the following points:
- The National Coordination Council is not inciting a violent coup.
- The Belarusian people are protesting simply because they are not willing to put up with the lies of the officials, the violence, and the humiliation, as well as the social and economic crisis.
Latushko also asked Belarusians to stick together and keep up the fight.
8:59 pm Tech employees are setting up a fund to help those state-owned media reporters who spoke out against propaganda and lost their jobs as a result. IT companies are working together to provide financial aid and new employment opportunities. The fund has already received more than 400 requests.
9:22 pm The strike committee of Belaruskalii has released a new statement. The workers are now calling for Alexander Lukashenko and Lidziya Yarmoshyna (head of the Central Election Committee) to be prosecuted for crimes against the people of Belarus and vote rigging, as well as demanding freedom for all political prisoners and invalidation of the election results.
9:29 pm Lukashenko announced a crackdown on protests in Hrodna and the surrounding province starting Monday. However, there is already video evidence of random arrests taking place in the streets.
9:41 pm The Human Rights Foundation has been able to identify 15 members of the security forces who were responsible for or assisted in beatings of the arrested protesters. The Foundation has stated that these people, as well as many of their colleagues, have committed crimes against humanity and must be brought to justice.
9:45 pm After her visit to Zhodzina, Maria Kolesnikova has joined the peaceful protesters who are gathering in Independence Square in Minsk. In a brief speech, Kolesnikova said: “We see that we are many, we are free and we are happy. Lately, the authorities have been trying to divide us, to convince us that we can harbor hatred towards one another. But Belarusians know that we remain a united nation. We can have different opinions, and this is why it is crucial to maintain this peaceful, friendly atmosphere in the country. Every single day, every one of us makes a small step towards victory. We are conquering our fear and learning to be happy and independent. It is very difficult, but together we can win.”The speech further emphasized that the main goal of the Coordination Council, as well as Kolesnikova’s own team, is creating and maintaining unity among Belarusians.