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Belarus: Lukashenko ‘afraid of his own people’ claims opposition organiser

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Maria Kolesnikova, one of Belarus' opposition leaders on the way to the Belarusian Investigative Committee in Minsk on Thursday
Maria Kolesnikova, one of Belarus' opposition leaders on the way to the Belarusian Investigative Committee in Minsk on Thursday   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko is “afraid of his own people” a member of the Belarusian Opposition Coordination Council has told Euronews, after Lukashenko called on Russian president Vladimir Putin to help quell unrest in the country.

Protests have been held every day in Belarus since the disputed election which saw Lukashenko win a sixth consecutive term in office, remaining the only president the country has ever had.

The opposition, as well as many independent observers, have rejected the results of the election held on August 9, which saw opposition candidates locked up or forced into exile.

And following widespread scenes of protesters being beaten by the authorities, as well as claims of torture at the hands of the police, an opposition organiser has accused Lukashenko of calling on forces from the Russian Federation.

Maria Kolesnikova told Euronews Lukashenko “initiated the formation of a certain reserve of law officers, of the Russian Federation for use in the territory of Belarus”, which she said shows he is “afraid of his own people, and is not able to hear Belarusians and hear our problems.”

“He needs to go to another president, for example Putin in this case, and for us it's a sign he’s very weak and he’s not able to decide programs in Belarus by himself,” she added.

Kolesnikova was herself called in for questioning by Belarusian authorities today, and other opposition figures have been forced to flee the country, including the main opposition presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who is now in exile in Lithuania.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Thursday that he is ready to send forces into Belarus if protests continue to turn violent.

He revealed that Lukashenko asked him to prepare a law enforcement contingent to deploy to the country.

Lukashenko has himself accused Belarus' neighbours of interfering in its affairs.

“We believe that the only way to overcome the political crisis is to immediately start negotiations and develop mechanisms to restore rule of law and hold new elections,” said Kolesnikova, who when asked about her own personal safety, told Euronews it was a “difficult time to stand, but nine million Belarusians are still not feeling safe.”