|The opposition rally came amid an intensifying crackdown by the authorities."People who want a decent life are not criminals," Ms Tikhanovskaya told the crowd. "They are our people, people who want a peaceful change of power." (Photo by=EPA)|
[아시아뉴스통신=레악카나 기자] About 60 thousands of people have gathered in Minsk, Belarus for a rally by the president's election rival, despite an escalating crackdown on the opposition. The rally was organised by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who is standing against the long-term president.
Alexander Lukashenko has faced a wave of protests over his bid for a sixth term since he took office in 1994. Ms Tikhanovskaya, a political novice, decided to stand for election after her husband was barred from running and jailed earlier this year. Her supporters gathered in a square in Minsk for what the AFP news agency said was the largest opposition protest in the ex-Soviet country in a decade.
They waved flags and balloons printed with opposition slogans. State authorities earlier accused Ms Tikhanovskaya's husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky, of collaborating with Russian mercenaries to stoke unrest ahead of the election. The popular opposition blogger faces other charges too.Ms Tikhanovskaya denied the accusations, which came during an intensifying crackdown on opposition activity.
Earlier on Thursday, the authorities arrested 33 suspected mercenaries whom they accused of plotting "terrorism". Russia said it was seeking clarification over the arrests and denied knowledge of the Wagner paramilitary group which Belarus suspects of involvement.