Last weekend saw the capital of Belarus, Minsk, overflowing with tens of thousands of protesters in a massive rally as they marched together demanding the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko who recently won the presidential elections for the sixth time. 

This was the second week that more than 200,000 protestors continued rallying in central Minsk, as per Reuters. 

The goal of the demonstrators was Lukashenko’s residence at the Independence Square and they marched on while brandishing red and white flags making their opposition to the president clear. They all chanted the same thing- for the president who has been in power since 1994 to finally step down and for election to be held again to choose a new leader. 

The presidential elections were recently held on August 9 and Lukashenko won again in a landslide victory and got a sixth term in office with 80% of the vote. He faced allegations of rigging the voting system and committing electoral fraud which he has vehemently denied. The protestors took to rallying on the streets in support of the allegations as well as instances of police violence under Lukashenko’s leadership. 

While Lukashenko maintains that he won the elections fairly and had refused to hold another vote, he has assured that he will end the unrest in the capital. As per a state media video, the president was overseeing the protests in a helicopter on Aug. 23 while wearing body armour and carrying an assault rifle in his hand.

Since the protests began, thousands of protestors have been detained and four people have been killed, but in another video, by the state media, the president can be seen thanking the riot police outside his residence. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have criticized the way the protests have been handled, calling it  “systemically brutal” and showing a “complete disregard” for human rights.

“I believe this is the end of Lukashenko,” said Mark McNamee, director for Europe at research and advisory firm DuckerFrontier.

“It will take time to play out but he has lost all legitimacy domestically, as well as internationally with the EU, as well as with Russia,” McNamee added.

Alexander Lukashenko Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko gestures as he delivers a speech during a rally held to support him in central Minsk, on August 16, 2020. Photo by SIARHEI LESKIEC/AFP via Getty Images