MINSK — Belarus’s authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka has signed into law legislation that allows police and security forces to shoot at demonstrators.
The law, endorsed by Lukashenka on May 17, frees law enforcement officers from responsibility for damages inflicted on protesters by physical attack, firearms, combatant and special equipment if in such cases the actions are deemed “legal.”
The law is part of a broad legislative move approved by lawmakers in April that severely restricts civil rights and the free flow of information amid a crackdown on the country’s pro-democracy movement.
Tens of thousands of Belarusians have rallied across the country since a presidential election in August 2020 that Lukashenka claims to have won but opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and her supporters have deemed fraudulent.
The demonstrators have demanded Lukashenka’s resignation and fresh elections, but Belarus’s strongman has been defiant. Security officials have arrested thousands and forced Tsikhanouskaya and other top opposition figures out of the country.