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In pics | The awakening of Belarus — protesters show pride, worry and empathy

Behind each protester in Belarus is a surprising story of awakening. Holding signs or personal tokens of resistance, they described their fears and hopes after nearly two weeks of protests against President Alexander Lukashenko's 26-year rule.

August 23, 2020 / 04:34 PM IST
Behind each protester in Belarus is a surprising story of awakening. Holding signs or personal tokens of resistance, they described their fears and hopes after nearly two weeks of protests against President Alexander Lukashenko's 26-year rule. The protesters come from various generations and walks of life in this country that forms a buffer between Russia and Europe, and that long seemed frozen in the repressive calm of the Soviet era until now. A police officer who quit his job, ashamed of violence by his colleagues. A paramedic who treated victims of that brutality, wielding white roses in response. An actor using his theater as backdrop for revolt, ready to sabotage his career to seek a freer nation. Alexander Yablonskiy, a pensioner poses for a photo during an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, August 20. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Behind each protester in Belarus is a surprising story of awakening. Holding signs or personal tokens of resistance, they described their fears and hopes after nearly two weeks of protests against President Alexander Lukashenko's 26-year rule. The protesters come from various generations and walks of life in this country that forms a buffer between Russia and Europe, and that long seemed frozen in the repressive calm of the Soviet era until now. A police officer who quit his job, ashamed of violence by his colleagues. A paramedic who treated victims of that brutality, wielding white roses in response. An actor using his theater as backdrop for revolt, ready to sabotage his career to seek a freer nation. (Above) Alexander Yablonskiy, a pensioner poses for a photo during an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus on August 20. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Alexander Ahremchyk, a former policeman poses for a photo showing his medals and officer's epaulets in Minsk, Belarus, August 21. Ahremchyk displayed his insignia and medals, which he no longer wears after quitting the service in the wake of the protests. "My resignation is a protest itself," he said. He said he doesn't object to his bosses, but to "the unjustified violence toward those who were detained."(Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Alexander Ahremchyk, a former policeman poses for a photo showing his medals and officer's epaulets in Minsk, Belarus, on August 21. Ahremchyk displayed his insignia and medals, which he no longer wears after quitting the service in the wake of the protests. "My resignation is a protest itself," he said. He said he doesn't object to his bosses, but to "the unjustified violence toward those who were detained."(Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Ales Varhamiev, a pensioner and singer plays a guitar as he poses for a photo during an opposition rally in Independence Square in Minsk, Belarus, August 20. Varhamiev brought his guitar to play the protesters' anti-Lukashenko anthem "Cockroach, Get Out!" (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Ales Varhamiev, a pensioner and singer plays a guitar as he poses for a photo during an opposition rally in Independence Square in Minsk, Belarus, on August 20. Varhamiev brought his guitar to play the protesters' anti-Lukashenko anthem "Cockroach, Get Out!" (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Nikolay, poses for a photo wearing a Batman mask during an opposition rally at Independence Square in Minsk, Belarus, August 19. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Nikolay, poses for a photo wearing a Batman mask during an opposition rally at Independence Square in Minsk, Belarus, on August 19. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Olga Baryshnikova, a student and a singer in a choir poses for a photo wearing Belarusian national costume in Minsk, Belarus, August 19. She said she can't sit silent at a time like this. "I hurt for Belarus," she said, tears in her eyes. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Olga Baryshnikova, a student and a singer in a choir poses for a photo wearing Belarusian national costume in Minsk, Belarus, on August 19. She said she can't sit silent at a time like this. "I hurt for Belarus," she said, tears in her eyes. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Viktoria Bogutenko, an employee at the refrigerator factory "Atlant", poses for a photo during an opposition rally in front of the factory in Minsk, Belarus, August 18. "I am against the current authorities, but I am not for this strike," she said. Her voice choked with emotion as she described the importance of keeping the conveyor belts moving, for the sake of salaries and "ordinary people" like her. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Viktoria Bogutenko, an employee at the refrigerator factory Atlant, poses for a photo during an opposition rally in front of the factory in Minsk, Belarus, on August 18. "I am against the current authorities, but I am not for this strike," she said. Her voice choked with emotion as she described the importance of keeping the conveyor belts moving, for the sake of salaries and "ordinary people" like her. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Alexander Laubert, a student poses for a photo on August 18, on crutches due to a broken knee after being beaten by police during a protest in Minsk, Belarus. Wary at first, Laubert eventually opened up about two days of being beaten, trampled on, nearly suffocated and doused in gasoline before volunteers finally brought him to a hospital for treatment and a leg cast. Instead of cowing him, though, the experienced emboldened him. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Alexander Laubert, a student poses for a photo on August 18, on crutches due to a broken knee after being beaten by police during a protest in Minsk, Belarus. Wary at first, Laubert eventually opened up about two days of being beaten, trampled on, nearly suffocated and doused in gasoline before volunteers finally brought him to a hospital for treatment and a leg cast. Instead of cowing him, though, the experienced emboldened him. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Mihail Zui, an actor of the Yanka Kupala National Theater poses for a photo showing his resignation letter in Minsk, Belarus, August 18. After the theater's influential and popular director decided to support the protesters, he was fired — and Zui and most of the other performers quit in solidarity and anger. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Mihail Zui, an actor of the Yanka Kupala National Theatre, poses for a photo showing his resignation letter in Minsk, Belarus, on August 18. After the theatre's influential and popular director decided to support the protesters, he was fired — and Zui and most of the other performers quit in solidarity and anger. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Tatyana, an ambulance paramedic poses for a photo holding white roses during an opposition rally near Independence Square in Minsk, Belarus, August 17. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Tatyana, an ambulance paramedic poses for a photo holding white roses during an opposition rally near Independence Square in Minsk, Belarus, on August 17. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Pavel Stavpinskiy, a worker who was an election observer during the last presidential election poses for a photo during an opposition rally in Independence Square in Minsk, Belarus, August 17. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Pavel Stavpinskiy, a worker who was an election observer during the last presidential election poses for a photo during an opposition rally in Independence Square in Minsk, Belarus, on August 17. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Valeria, a student poses for a photo holding a handmade poster that reads "Peaceful people for the free choice" during an opposition rally in front of a detention center in Minsk, Belarus, August 17. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Valeria, a student poses for a photo holding a handmade poster that reads "Peaceful people for the free choice" during an opposition rally in front of a detention center in Minsk, Belarus, on August 17. (Image: AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Associated Press
first published: Aug 23, 2020 04:34 pm

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