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On August 17, Alyaksandr Lukashenka visited MZKT (Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant) in light of the deterioration of the situation. Notably, he flew by helicopter to the enterprise and back.
Employees of many Belarusian companies have gone on strike, demanding fair elections, releasing political prisoners and detainees as well as stopping torturing people in detention centres. On Monday morning, a 10,000-column of Minsk Tractor Plant workers and other protesters, reached the gate of MZKT. Among them is Maryia Kalesnikava, the campaign chief of imprisoned presidential hopeful Viktar Babaryka. She called on each entrerprise to elect one representative to the Coordination Council which is now being established by Lukashenka’s opponents.
The picketers chanted: ‘Step down!’, ‘We are not sheep, we are the people’, ‘We will not forget’, ‘Long live Belarus’, ‘Shame!’, ‘Put Lukashenka in paddy wagon’, etc.
There were also participants from Minskenergo, Minsk Cable Networks, Minsk Automobile Plant.
Aссording to TUT.BY, Alyaksandr Lukashenka did not meet the major part of workers; he was ushered to one of the shops, where he addressed a group of specifically named employees. However, they hardly gave him a warm welcome, starting to chant ‘Step down!’:
Delivering the speech, Lukashenka vowed there would be an ‘adequate response to provocations and violation of public order’. He claimed that many detained protesters had deliberately planned ‘’riots’.
When he was leaving, he approached to a worker who shouted to him ‘Officer, you should shoot himself’ and said:
“Don’t be afraid, you will not be beaten, it is not my interest. But if anyone provokes, we’ll be playing hardball. Man up! A crowd has gathered agaiinst me alone!” (watch the video below)
When noticing that the worker was filming him, Lukashenka screamed: “Put your phone down!”
Protesting and striking workers. Minsk, 17 August 2020. Photo: belsat.eu
Workers of Minsl Tractor Plant also joined today’s protests of state media workers near the office of the Belarusian State TV and Radio Company.
Рhoto: Svyatlana Far / Belsat.eu / Vot-tak.tv