Alyaksandr Lukashenka revealed on Tuesday that he was "fed up with the presidency."
Speaking at a conference attended by more than 250 government officials, Mr. Lukashenka, who has ruled Belarus since 1994, said that increasingly more attention was being devoted to the 2015 presidential election.
"Believe me, it will depend not only on you whether or not people will reelect me," he said. "If I run in this election altogether. Only God knows that, there is still much time left. A man can walk for years and then one day he stops walking. That's why anything can happen." //BelaPAN
About a dozen Belarusians took part in clashes with police who tried to oust pro-EU protesters from Independence Square at the heart of Kyiv on the night between December 10 and 11.
Scuffles erupted after police moved in on a large protest encampment in the square. Belarusian woman Natallya Harachka said that she had stayed near the makeshift stage at the center of the square throughout the night, displaying Belarus' historically national white-red-white flag. The woman told BelaPAN that she was not affiliated with any political organization.
The police failed to seize control of the square as the protesters formed human walls to repel the police and their number swelled toward the morning.
Several Belarusians were staying in Kyiv's city hall occupied by pro-EU protesters as it was stormed by riot police on Wednesday morning, Maryya Kvitsinskaya, an activist of an opposition youth group called Malady Front, told BelaPAN.
"Five or six Malady Front members are now in the building. When I phoned them, they told me that they were repelling police, pouring water from the first floor down on members of the Berkut police force," she said.
Ms. Kvitsinskaya added that she was observing no people holding white-red-white flags in Independence Square on Wednesday morning.
Yury Bakur, a Brest resident who returned to Belarus on December 11 after taking part in the protests, said that Belarusian opposition activist Raman Pratasevich had been hurt lightly during a clash with riot police in Kyiv earlier this week.
Two sanctioned demonstrations were staged in Brest on December 10 on the occasion of International Human Rights Day.
Organized by Zinaida Mikhnyuk, chairperson of the regional chapter of the Belarusian Union of Electronic Industry Workers, one of the demonstrations took place in Internationalist Soldiers Park between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and was attended by 15 people. They displayed signs condemning the government’s system of compulsory employment contracts and demanding respect for labor rights, higher pay and freedom for the political prisoners.
“Unfortunately, there were few people in the remote park on this cold afternoon,” Ms. Mikhnyuk told BelaPAN. “Demonstrators expressed hope that one day we would be able to gather at the center of the city.”
The other demonstration was staged in Lakamatyw Stadium between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. and brought together 10 activists of the Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party, the “Tell the Truth!” movement, and the Spravedlivy Mir (Just World) Belarusian Party of the Left. They displayed signs saying, “Freedom to Political Prisoners!” and held images of imprisoned Ales Byalyatski, Mikalay Awtukhovich and Mikalay Statkevich.
“It is good that the city government has permitted our demonstration,” said its organizer, human rights defender Uladzimir Vyalichkin. “Over the last several years, almost all applications for permission to hold such events have been rejected despite the fact that Lakamatyw Stadium is a desolate place surrounded by a concrete fence.”
Internationalist Soldiers Park and Lakamatyw Stadium are the only venues designated for "mass events" in Brest, a city of about 330,000 residents.
The Minsk City Executive Committee has denied permission for the LGBT community to hold public demonstrations in the city this month within the framework of a series of events collectively called Gay Pride 2013.
According to a statement on the GayBelarus website, the Minsk government has banned a demonstration on Shawchenka Avenue on the grounds that the application for permission did not fully comply with regulations governing the organization of mass events. In particular, the city government explains that the chosen venue does not meet the requirement that a mass event be held at least 50 meters away from government buildings and diplomatic offices.
The LGBT community has also been banned from staging a demonstration in People's Friendship Park in Bangalore Square on December 12 because the education department of the Savetski district administration is scheduled to hold a sports event for children on the occasion of World Snow Day.
The LGBT community views the stated grounds as fabricated, and believes that the authorities' reluctance to discuss possible forms and timings for Gay Pride events is "deliberate disregard for civil and political rights and freedoms," the statement says.
The Gay Pride festival is being held in Minsk for the ninth time, but the city government has never granted permission for the festival’s events.
By holding Gay Pride 2013 under the motto “We Exist” and timing it to coincide with World Human Rights Day (December 10), the organizers aim to draw the attention of the public and authorities to the problems that LGBT people face in Belarus.
According to the GayBelarus website, the embassies of some Western countries and a number of Western politicians have expressed support for the Gay Pride campaign in Minsk.
Support has also been expressed by the US Mission to the OSCE, Dutch MEP Marije Cornelissen, Robert Biedron, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s general rapporteur on the rights of LGBT people, and dozens of NGOs throughout the world.
On December 7, the British embassy in Minsk hung up the rainbow flag next to the flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union.
Demonstrations are expected to be staged in New York and Washington to support Gay Pride 2013 in Minsk. //BelaPAN
Eric Rubin, deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the US Department of State, is to stay in Belarus on December 11 and 12.
Mr. Rubin is expected to meet with Belarusian government officials, opposition politicians and civil society activists.
On the evening of December 11, Mr. Rubin is to meet with Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey, according to the press office of the Belarusian foreign ministry. //BelaPAN