Lukashenko orders police to step against protests

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko ordered his police on Wednesday to put down protests in the capital Minsk, signalling an escalation after a week and a half of mass demonstrations against his rule. The order came as EU leaders were holding an emergency summit over the political crisis in Belarus, which has heavily militarised borders with the EU.

“There should no longer be any disorder in Minsk of any kind,” Lukashenko said in remarks reported by the official Belta news agency. “People are tired. People demand peace and quiet.” He ordered the border to be tightened to prevent an influx of “fighters and arms”. Workers at state media who have quit in protest against the government’s policies would not be rehired, he said.

EU leaders were expected to endorse sanctions on Belarusian officials they blame for election fraud following a disputed 9 August election that the opposition said it won. However, they were expected to steer clear of more dramatic steps that might provoke intervention from Moscow.

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