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Millions rally in Belarus capital Minsk despite crackdown

Thousands of people gathered in a rally at the Belarus capital of Minsk on Thursday in support of opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who’s demanding authoritarian ruler Alexander Lukashenko in November elections next month.

Observers said the rally was the largest in Belarus’ history since independence from the Soviet Union, using quotes that the audience in Minsk’s Bangalore Square attained over 25,000.

Tikhanovskaya, 37, is the wife of jailed opposition blogger and presidential hopeful, Sergei Tikhanovsky, who had been arrested in May on charges of assaulting a police officer, he rejected as a provocation.

She established her presidential bid after her husband’s arrest, and it has sworn to free political prisoners and point new elections when she’s elected into office.

The concept has helped Tikhanovskaya attract massive crowds at rallies throughout the nation.

Election officials previously rejected efforts by two other possible presidential challengers to enroll for the race.

“They (the government ) keep referring to a revolution. We only want honest elections. What exactly does a revolution need to do with it?” Tikhanovskaya stated in a speech during Thursday’s rally.

“We’re peaceful people, and also we need peaceful modifications for our nation,” she added.

Lukashenko is campaigning to stay in office for a term involving an upsurge in resistance protests fueled by people hurt with his iron-fisted principle and debilitating financial fallout in the coronavirus pandemic.

The rally Thursday came following the detention of 33 Russian citizens in Belarus that the government accused of plotting terror attacks ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for August 9 — a promise which Russian officials have aggressively dismissed.

Many critics, such as Tikhanovskaya, disregarded the official claims of a Russian subversion plot for a sham designed to rally support across the sitting president.