Heavily armed troops in military uniforms were filmed shooting rubber bullets and flashbang grenades at a crowd of protesters blocking traffic in Minsk, as demonstrations against the presidential election continued across Belarus.
Protesters blocked Kalvariyskaya street in western Minsk, a major thoroughfare near the First Ring road, on Monday. Riot police sent to disperse them were reinforced by troops in camouflage-pattern uniforms and armed with automatic weapons, who “opened fire” at demonstrators.
Moment of shooting there
via NEXTA pic.twitter.com/0J7Iiaifmp
— Denis Kazakiewicz (@Den_2042) August 10, 2020
As it turned out, the bullets were plastic riot rounds and the explosions were of flashbangs and smoke flares. Several people were injured, including journalist Natalia Lubnevskaya of Nasha Niva magazine, who was struck in the leg by a rubber bullet.
Pro-demonstrator social media accounts were quick to condemn “unidentified people in army uniforms without identification” who were “shooting at people.”
Военный спецназ без знаков различия на Кальварийской улице в Минске pic.twitter.com/KgtUu15dnJ
— 🌈 𝕺𝖑𝖊𝖌 𝕬𝖑𝖎𝖊𝖛 🇪🇺🇫🇮🇺🇦🇹🇷🇦🇿 (@Oleg_Aliyev) August 10, 2020
The uniformed men were quickly identified on social media, however, as members of the special anti-terrorist unit of the Belarusian Interior Ministry, known as ‘Almaz’ (Diamond).
Минск, 10 августа 2020 года
Отряд «Алмаз» – антитеррористическое спецподразделение Министерства внутренних дел Белоруссии. pic.twitter.com/QDKQ2Ivf1P
— SwankyStas (@StasSwanky) August 10, 2020
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Minsk and other cities in Belarus on Monday, protesting against the outcome of Sunday’s presidential election. The incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko officially won with almost 80 percent of the vote, but the united opposition led by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya called for the election to be annulled, alleging widespread fraud and irregularities.
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Police have cracked down on Monday’s protests, using rubber bullets, flashbang grenades and tear gas in Minsk and elsewhere, according to local media reports. More than 3,000 people were arrested following the clashes between police and pro-opposition protesters on Sunday.
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