Belarus President ordered to close the borders due to COVID-19 infection. The opposition leader believes Alexander Lukashenko ‘is in panic’, The Irish Examiner reports.
The Belarus authorities on Thursday shut the borders with several west neighbours for most travellers. Since the August presidential election, the East European nation faces the powerful street protests led by the opposition. Its only demand is the resignation of the country’s authoritarian leader. The COVID-19 epidemic just deteriorates the situation.
On Thursday, Belarus’ Border Control Committee said the closure of borders with Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine is intended to stop the coronavirus. The move, however, follows Belarusian officials’ claims that its neighbours have tried to destabilize the situation in the country.
According to the new rules, border crossings to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine were all closed to anyone other than Belarusian citizens and diplomats, with the authorities citing the escalation of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infections as the cause. The border with Russia remains open.
It is important to realize that the movement of cargo across the border has continued unhindered, and the international airport in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, has maintained its operations.
The EU-backed opposition leader urges to stop Lukashenko’s presidential power
Since the Aug. 9 election, the opposition has rejected the official results as rigged and demanded that Lukashenko step down. Lukashenko’s main election challenger, Sviatlana Tsikhanovskaya, who left for Lithuania under pressure from authorities after the vote, had declared a nationwide strike starting Monday after her ultimatum for Lukashenko to resign expired Sunday.
Meanwhile, President Lukashenko reshuffled his top officials on Thursday. He appointed Interior Minister Yuri Karayev and Security Council Secretary Valery Vakulchik his envoys to the westernmost Grodno and Brest regions.
“I wouldn’t say publicly what action we are taking and will take on the border, but I need military people in charge there,” Lukashenko said during a meeting with officials.
The opposition leader has interpreted Lukashenko’s moves as panic, indeed. “The closure of the borders and the latest appointments signal the weakening of his authority,” Tsikhanovskaya commented on President’s latest decision. “He makes inconsequent decisions because he’s in panic.”