An authoritarian leader who faces suspicions of winning the head of state’s election in August by fraud has also sworn that the election was not rigged.
“We are forced to withdraw troops from the streets, call in half the army and close the state border from the west – especially with Lithuania and Poland,” Lukashenko said at a forum held in the cultural and sports complex to support him, according to the independent news server Tut.by. in the capital Minsk. He added that “with great regret” he must also strengthen the state border with “brotherly Ukraine”.
“I swear there were no lies in the election, you can’t falsify the election to 80 percent,” Lukashenko said in a forum, according to TASS. He claimed that his opponents did not need the results of the vote to “attack the peaceful capital”.
With Lukashenko’s border closure, it is unclear to what extent two adjustments to Polish regulations can be used to make it easier for Belarusians to come to Poland. One change concerns people who have visas for hiking trips. The second is intended for people with visas to participate in a special program that helps start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises and large companies in Belarus to move smoothly to Poland. Both changes adopted by the PAP in connection with the situation in Belarus entered into force today.
Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller said in response to Reuters that Poland had no confirmation yet that the borders would actually be closed. The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs told PAP that, according to information from the Polish border guards, the borders were functioning normally for the time being. According to the head of the Lithuanian border guard, Rustamas Liubajevas, the Lithuanian border with Belarus also works as usual. In addition, the Belarusian border guard said it had not received any orders for border restrictions.
Protests erupted in Belarus after the disputed presidential election on August 9 after the authorities declared Lukashenko the winner. The opposition considers it a fraud and the EU did not recognize the election result. Lukashenko reportedly won 80 percent of the vote with an 80 percent turnout.
The authoritarian president, who has ruled the country hard for 26 years, has ignored the fact that protests have continued in a number of Belarusian cities for six weeks now, despite the crackdown by security forces. Every Sunday, according to estimates by the opposition and journalists in Minsk, there are 100,000 people who demand Lukashenko’s departure and a new election as head of state.