The government said it would find and punish those responsible for the data breach, which was released widely on Saturday evening.Tens of thousands of opposition supporters marched in the Belarusian capital, Minsk on Sunday, despite the authorities’ deployment of a strong police presence. The protest came a day after officers arrested hundreds of protesters during a women’s march through the city.
People carrying red and white protest flags gathered in the “March of Justice” which took up an entire central avenue and made their way to the heavily guarded Independence Palace, where Lukashenko has its offices. They were holding signs with slogans such as “Cowards beat women” and “Get out!”
The loyalty of the security forces is crucial to Lukashenko’s ability to cling to power after last month’s presidential election, in which he won a landslide victory. His opponents say he was rigged to give the former boss of the Soviet collective farm a sixth term.
Security forces have arrested thousands of people in response to a wave of protests and strikes, their faces often obscured by masks, hoods or riot helmets. Some protesters physically tore off the officers’ masks.
The government said 390 women were arrested for participating in a protest against Lukashenko on Saturday. Most have been released. The scale of the detentions prompted the opposition coordinating council to warn of a “new phase in the escalation of violence against peaceful protesters”.
Among those detained was one of the most prominent faces of the protest movement, 73-year-old activist Nina Baginskaya, although she was later released.
Lukashenko’s crackdown on protests prompted the EU to consider further sanctions against his government.
Minsk reacted angrily on Saturday to reports that Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the main opposition candidate in last month’s elections, could soon meet with EU foreign ministers.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized the EU for inviting Tikhanovskaya to the ministerial meeting as well as for considering sanctions against Minsk, saying Brussels was trying to ‘shake things up’ in Belarus .