Workers heckled and jeered Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko when he visited a factory on Aug. 17, while strikes grew across the country, raising pressure on the authoritarian leader to step down after 26 years in power.
On the ninth straight day of mass protests over the official results of the Aug. 9 presidential election that demonstrators say was rigged, Lukashenko flew by helicopter to a factory in the capital of Minsk to rally support, but he was met by angry workers chanting, “Go away!”
He told the workers: “I will never cave in to pressure.”
Lukashenko said the country could have a new presidential election, but only after approving an amended version of its constitution in a nationwide referendum — an apparent bid to buy some time amid the growing political crisis.
The proposal didn’t assuage thousands of protesters who again gathered at the capital’s main Independence Square to continue pushing for Lukashenko to step down.
“We don’t want any new constitutions or referendums. We want Lukashenko’s resignation,” said 45-year-old factory worker Dmitry Averkin.
Lukashenko told the factory workers that those who intend to strike could leave if they want, but he added that the protests are ruining the economy and said the country would collapse if he stepped down. (AP)