Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko admitted ordering to disperse a protest in the capital Minsk on October 25 during a speech aired by the STV channel.
"They [protestors] wanted to seize the city center, but were not allowed to do so. At dusk they marched to [seize] police stations, and, worse, to residential districts. It was already dark, and people were terrified," he said.
"What was the police supposed to do in this case?" Lukashenko continued. "It was my order, issued for the purpose of keeping ordinary people safe. They [protestors] started to break into apartments <…>. This is not normal, and cannot be tolerated."
Belarus held its presidential election on August 9. According to the Central Election Commission’s data, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko received 80.1% of the vote. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who garnered 10.12%, refused to recognize the election’s results and left Belarus. Protests erupted in the country's capital of Minsk and several other cities following the presidential vote, leading to clashes between protesters and law enforcement officers, TASS reports.
The deadline for the opposition-led People’s Ultimatum expired on October 25, put forward by Tikhanovskaya to Lukashenko. The demands included the resignation of the incumbent president, the release of political prisoners and an end to violence. On Sunday, an eponymous rally took place in Minsk and other cities. The event in the Belarusian capital was among the most-attended protests during the entire period of the ongoing political crisis in the country.
Belarusian law enforcement bodies detained 523 people during Sunday protests, including 160 in Minsk, with 352 currently remaining in custody, Belarusian Interior Ministry Spokesperson Olga Chemodanova said on Monday.