Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Man sets himself on fire in front of Belarusian government headquarters: police | News Europe

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The 35-year-old was taken to hospital after passers-by and police extinguished the flames with a fire extinguisher.

A 35-year-old Belarusian man set himself on fire outside the government building in Minsk on Friday and was hospitalized after passers-by and police extinguished the flames with a fire extinguisher, police said.

The man could be seen on fire in a vast, largely empty square in central Minsk near a statue of Lenin in video footage shared online.

Several people could be seen rushing towards him to try to put out the flames.

The motives for the man’s action were not immediately clear and investigators were working to establish the context, the Belarusian investigative committee said in a statement.

He said the man had sprayed himself with liquid before setting himself on fire.

Belarus has been rocked by massive protests since a presidential election last year which the opposition said was rigged in favor of incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko. He denies the allegations of electoral fraud.

Over 30,000 demonstrators were arrested, many killed and hundreds injured during the protests.

The leader, who has been in power since 1994, said last month the country would hold a referendum on its proposals for constitutional reforms that could reduce presidential powers. He did not specify the time of the poll.

Lukashenko’s political opponents, the most prominent of whom were jailed or fled the country, rejected the reform proposals as a blocking tactic to help him overcome the protests and the wider political crisis.

The alleged rigging of votes and the crackdown on Belarusian protesters prompted the United States and the European Union to introduce sanctions against the country’s officials.



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