Belarusians in Estonia protest for free and fair elections in Belarus
Dozens of protesters gathered to call for free and fair elections in Belarus on Monday outside the Belarusian embassy in Tallinn.
Protesters held homemade banners and placards and flew the red and white flag of the Belarusian People's Republic which was created in 1918 and used between 1991 and 1995 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now the Belarusian diaspora and nearly all opposition parties in Belarus consider it as the only true flag of Belarus, Belarus Digest explains.
The rally in Tallinn echoes those held in other cities across the world in recent weeks calling for the release of Belarusian political prisoners so they can participate in the presidential elections which will be held in August. Several opposition candidates have been put in jail in the last month.
The current president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has been in power since 1994.
Belarusian protester Volia Chajkouskaja has lived in Tallinn for two years and told ERR News at the rally: "We are here today because we want to express solidarity with all the political prisoners in Belarus and all the activists in Belarus who fight for justice and for transparent and fair elections."
Chajkouskaja said the protesters, who were also chanting at the rally in Russian and Belarusian, were calling for justice, freedom for political prisoners, fair elections, and for Lukashenko to step down.
Explaining the reason for holding the rally, the organizers wrote on Facebook: "The past month has been marked by unlawful detentions of potential presidential candidates, and mass arrests of people who dared to protest. Add to that the questionable handling of COVID-19 pandemic by the authorities, and you can see why now, more than ever, people want to come out and stand against injustice.
"In this critical time for our country we want to express solidarity with the political prisoners in Belarus and show our support of fair elections."
On June 20, Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) expressed concern for opposition candidates, protesters and journalists in Belarus ahead of the election.
Worried about crackdown on opposition & detentions of protesters and journalists in Minsk ahead of ???????? presidential elections.— Urmas Reinsalu (@UrmasReinsalu) June 20, 2020
Freedom House says Belarus is an authoritarian state in which elections are openly orchestrated and civil liberties are tightly restricted.
Reporters Without Borders ranked Belarus 153 out of 180 countries in this year's Press Freedom Index. Estonia was ranked in 14th place.
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Editor: Helen Wright