Belarusian police authorised to use lethal weapons

Belarusian police authorised to use lethal weapons
Pensioners argue with a law enforcement officer on Monday during an anti-government rally. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times: A senior Belarus government official says police have been authorised to use lethal weapons if necessary against anti-government protesters.

He said the move to authorise the use of lethal weapons was in response to increasingly radicalised, violent anti-Lukashenko groups.

EU foreign ministers have said they are ready to impose sanctions against President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been accused of election rigging..

Protests have sparked in the country since Mr Lukashenko claimed victory in an August election widely viewed as rigged.

Authorities in Belarus have been accused of brutality and torture in their suppression of the mass street protests that followed.

The interior ministry confirmed on Monday that police fired tear gas and stun grenades during an unauthorised rally in the capital, Minsk, which involved a large number of pension-age protesters.

A government spokesperson said action was taken after “citizens started to show aggression”. An unconfirmed number of demonstrators were also arrested by police.

First Deputy Interior Minister Gennady Kazakevich said they had “become organised and extremely radical”, referring to protests in the city on Sunday, adding they now mainly centred on Minsk and were less widespread.

Whereas protesters hurled bottles and stones in the afternoon, as well as wielding knives, by nightfall, they had moved on to burning tyres and building barricades, he said.

He said in a video statement: “This has nothing to do with civil protests. We’re confronted not just by aggression, but by groups of militants, radicals, anarchists and football hooligans.”

He said, claiming himself on behalf of the interior ministry, they will not leave the streets and will guarantee the law in the country. Interior troops and law enforcement personnel will use special equipment and lethal weapons if need be, he said.

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