Police in Belarus arrested more than 50 people across the country during protests demanding the president’s resignation, officials said on Wednesday.
The renewed crackdown on protesters, who have been taking to the streets for more than two weeks, came on Tuesday as authorities cranked up pressure on the opposition, jailing several activists, summoning others for questioning and selectively ordering dozens of demonstrators to appear in court.
The interior ministry said 51 protesters were arrested on Tuesday at rallies that spanned several cities.
According to the Viasna human rights group, 15 people were arrested in Minsk, the country’s capital, where several thousand people rallied at Independence Square despite heavy rain, pushing for the country’s longtime President Alexander Lukashenko to resign.
On Wednesday, the most celebrated Belarusian writer called on Russia to help persuade Lukashenko to negotiate, as she arrived for questioning in a criminal case accusing an opposition body of an illegal attempt to seize power.
“Now Lukashenko speaks only to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. We need him to speak to the people,” Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for literature, told reporters outside the Investigative Committee, where she appeared for questioning.
“Maybe the world can help us, so that Lukashenko will negotiate with somebody,” she said. “We need the world to help, and maybe Russia.”