MINSK, Belarus – Hundreds of people have gathered in the Belarusian capital Minsk for a rare unsanctioned protest which did not provoke police violence.
The protesters were rallying against the upcoming Oct. 11 election which President Alexander Lukashenko, in office for more than two decades, is expected to win in the absence of genuine competition.
Nikolai Statkevich, who ran against Lukashenko in the 2010 election, got jailed after the vote and was only released from prison last month. He called on protesters on Wednesday to boycott the election since opposition figures were barred from running.
The fact that the Wednesday rally wasn't broken up by the police could suggest that Lukashenko is anxious to mend ties with the West while its neighbor Russia is pursuing an unpredictable policy in Ukraine.