The Belarusian deputy minister of the interior, Gennady Kazakovich, has threatened that the police will fire at protestors if necessary, representing a new escalation in the crisis.
He has accused the protestors of anarchy by wanting to remove Lukashenko from office and has warned that “deadly weapons” will be used.
Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, has demanded that Lukashenko abdicate by Oct. 25 under threat of massive protests throughout all of Belarus. She has also demanded that Lukashenko cease violence against protestors and free political prisoners.
The situation in Belarus has been unstable ever since the August presidential elections which saw Alexander Lukashenko with over 80 percent of the vote. The vote was viewed as rigged by the majority of Belarusians and the democratic world.
Lukashenko has so far ignored mass protests calling for his resignation and the criticism of many world capitals. He initially brutally fought against the protests, followed by a thaw in the violence, but now the Belarusian Ministry of the Interior is threatening the use of live ammunition.
This is the first threat from Belarusian authorities have threatened to use firearms against protests, marking a serious escalation between the government and the country’s citizens. So far, protests have been held of every weekend in Minsk. The police have refrained from using live ammunition and instead, have attacked peaceful protestors with stun grenades, water cannons and tear gas.
Minister Kazakovich claims that the protests have become “radical” and protestors have attacked the police with knives, stones, bottles, and have set tires ablaze. He also stated that militias and anarchists are participating in the protests.
Kazakovich added that Belarus is facing attempts to recreate the chaos of the 1990s and initiate “color revolutions” which managed to overthrow pro-Kremlin leaders in other former Soviet states.
Observers can expect a repeat of the situation from the last weekend when armed Belarusian police faced off against a crowd of elderly women with “grandmas stand with the people” signs. The spokesman of the Minsk police confirmed that when protestors were supposedly aggressive, the police reacted with stun grenades and tear gas.
So far, Lukashenko has managed to pacify the leaders of the opposition. The member of the opposition Coordination Council who remains free, Siarhiej Dyleuski, fled to Poland with his family.