Europeans are urging Putin to encourage dialogue to resolve the crisis in Belarus

European leaders urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to pressure his main ally, Belarusian President Lukashenko, to encourage dialogue with the opposition, which is protesting for the tenth consecutive day of the presidential election results.

In the evening, thousands of demonstrators gathered again at Independence Square in Minsk, carrying red and white opposition flags, and calling for the president’s resignation.

Putin, Minsk’s closest partner and whose position is crucial to resolving the crisis, spoke in three separate phone calls to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel.

Macron called on Putin to “facilitate calm and dialogue” to resolve the crisis in Belarus, while Merkel stressed that Minsk should “renounce violence” and engage in dialogue with the opposition. For his part, Michel called for “a comprehensive, effective and peaceful dialogue”.

For its part, the Kremlin warned against “any attempt of foreign interference” in Belarus and denounced the “pressure” that is being exercised against the authorities of this former Soviet republic. 

According to the “PLTA” news agency, Putin briefed Lukashenko by phone on the contents of his talks with European leaders.

Belarus will be the focus of an extraordinary European Union summit to be held on Wednesday, with possible expansion of sanctions imposed last week after the suppression of the demonstrations.

On Tuesday, the UN Security Council discussed the situation in Belarus in a session during which the members were invited to make all possible efforts to prevent the escalation of the crisis. 

This came at the request of the United States and Estonia, during a closed session of the Council devoted to discussing the situation in Yemen, whose agenda allows discussion of “any other topic”.

Since the controversial presidential elections on August 9, pressure has been mounting on President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994.

He has declared 80% of the vote and faces daily demonstrations and a strike action that increasingly affects industries vital to the country’s economy.

The Belarusian president accused the opposition in his speech before the National Security Council of seeking to seize power. 

He also stressed that the opposition wants to cut bridges with Russia, which was denied by Maria Kolesnikova.

She said during a press conference, “I want to assure every one of our official position that we will maintain friendly, mutually beneficial and pragmatic relations with Russia, as well as with Ukraine and the European Union countries”.

“The main goal of the opposition is to organize fair new presidential elections,” she added.

The Nobel Prize for Literature, Svetlana Alekseevich, will be part of the “Coordinating Council”, which will hold its first official meeting on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, opposition supporters gathered in Belarus in front of a detention center where the husband of opposition leader Svetlana Takhanovskaya, who denounced the “corrupt” regime, is present on the tenth day of the demonstrations.

About two hundred people gathered in front of the number one detention center in Minsk, the capital, where Sergey Tikhanovsky was placed under pretrial detention, to celebrate his 42nd birthday and to demand his release.

Sergey Tikhanovsky, husband of the opposition, Svetlana Tkhanovskaya, has been arrested since 29 May. 

Sergey, the video blogger, announced his candidacy for the presidential elections and led a campaign against President Alexander Lukashenko before he was replaced by his wife after his arrest.

He is accused of “disturbing public order” and faces several years in prison.

From Lithuania, where she sought refuge with her children, Svetlana Tikhanovsky, 37, denounced in a video posted on YouTube the accusations targeting her husband as fabricated “in order to silence him and not participate in the election campaign”.

“All this outrageous injustice shows us how this corrupt system works in which one person controls everything,” she said, adding “one person has kept the country in terror for 26 years”.

Someone robbed the Belarusians of their choice.

Tikhanovsky showed her readiness to rule the country Monday, calling on the president to step down.

The opposition has formed a “coordination council” for the transition of power, and its first meeting is supposed to take place from Tuesday, according to the opposition, Maria Kolesnikova.

Lukashenko rejected the idea of ​​stepping down several times, stressing again on Monday that he would not hand over power “under pressure or in the street”.

After the elections, the police cracked down on four demonstrations, resulting in two deaths and dozens of injuries, and more than 6,700 arrests. 

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Interior indicated that a third person was hit by a car while he was demonstrating.

On Sunday, the opposition organized the largest gathering in the history of the country, which included more than a hundred thousand participants, and issued a call to strike, which was committed by several important industries, such as the Belarusian potash producer or the heavy machinery manufacturing plant, where President Lukashenko was booed on Monday by workers.

The workers’ strike reached the tractor factory, which exports its production to all former Soviet countries and is a source of pride for the country.

Several small demonstrations were held Tuesday in the capital, one of which was in front of a detention center where the husband of the opposition leader, Svetlana Takhanovskaya, was present. 

Almost two hundred people gathered in front of the number one detention center in Minsk, where Sergey Tikhanovsky was placed under pretrial detention, to celebrate his 42nd birthday and to demand his release.

Sergey Tikhanovsky, husband of the opposition, Svetlana Tkhanovskaya, has been arrested since 29 May. 

Sergey, the video blogger, announced his candidacy for the presidential elections and led a campaign against President Alexander Lukashenko before he was replaced by his wife after his arrest.

He is accused of “disturbing public order” and faces several years in prison.

Another support rally was held Tuesday at the Academic Theater in Minsk, whose director Pavel Latushko, who is also a former Minister of Culture, was sacked because he publicly called for new elections and Lukashenko’s departure.

Minsk’s ambassador to Slovakia, Igor Leshchina, announced his resignation on Tuesday, becoming the first Belarusian diplomat to openly support the demonstrators.