Belarusians march in Manchester against election of president in 'rigged' vote
- Belarusians protest in Manchester against their president
- Protests draw support from other Slavic diaspora
- MPs from north west have not outwardly expressed support for protests
Belarusian ex-pats from across the north west of England assembled in Manchester on Sunday to protest against their controversially-elected president.
Demonstrators have been gathering in St Anne’s Square every Sunday to criticise Alexander Lukashenko, who won his sixth term in office in August with over 80% of the vote. Many have claimed the election results to be falsified.
The protests this weekend were held as part of a global women’s march against Belarus, with women spearheading the opposition.
Anastassia Davidzenka, who was born in Belarus and has lived in Manchester since 2008, said the lack of progress has driven people across the world onto the streets to voice their disapproval about what many say was a rigged elecction.
She said: “When [the Belarusian people] came out onto the streets to show they were against the rigged election, they were met with unbelievable police brutality.
"There were many victims and casualties, and unfortunately seven people died. The situation is not improving and that is why we are protesting – to show we cannot agree with that.”
Mrs Davidzenka is one of a growing number of Belarusians emigrating for the sake of a better life. According to census figures in 2011, only 263 Belarusian citizens lived in the North West region of the UK.
However, this has not stopped Belarusian communities in the UK uniting in denouncing the President. Following the election, over one hundred Belarusians across the North West joined Davidzenka in organising the protests.
“If I’m honest, it’s more than I ever expected. It’s very difficult for Belarusians to emigrate to work or study.”
In addition to Belarusian protestors, the movement has seen support from English, Ukrainian, Lithuanian and Russian diasporas across the region.
However, the demonstrations have not received public support from north west politicians.
“Manchester MPs haven’t been great. Generally, these MPs focus on local rather than foreign affairs. Most of our support comes from Dominic Raab and Wendy Morton [Minister for European Neighbourhood Affairs].”