Lukashenko rewards security forces, protests continue

Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday awarded medals “for impeccable service” to law enforcement officials who have helped him crack down on protesters, news wires reported. In an effort to clamp down on strike action that has hit some of the country's most important factories, the government also issued a missive to managers of state-run plants telling them to ensure workers fulfil their duties or be disciplined.

At least two protesters were killed and thousands detained in the post-election crackdown. Many detained protesters have complained of punishment beatings, cramped conditions and starvation rations. The opposition says Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was the rightful winner and wants new elections. The EU is gearing up to impose new sanctions on Minsk over its crackdown.

Hundreds of protesters chanting “shame” gathered at a theatre in Minsk on Tuesday in solidarity with its director, who was fired for speaking out in support of the opposition. They will later converge on a prison where the husband of exiled opposition leader Tsikhanouskaya has been detained since the end of May. He was planning to run against Lukashenko in the election. His wife took his place instead.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that Berlin wanted the Belarusian government to refrain from violence, release political prisoners, and start talks with the opposition. Putin has told Merkel that any external attempt to intervene in the domestic affairs of Belarus would be unacceptable.

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