Thousands have gathered for a moment of silence in Minsk to remember a protester who died during last week’s demonstrations against the Belarusian elections.
Belarus erupted after Sunday’s elections, in which Alexander Lukashenko – who has already been in office for a quarter century – won a sixth round with 80 per cent of the vote. The demonstrators allege fraud.
The police reacted brutally to the demonstrators. Thousands were arrested in the biggest protests the former Soviet republic has ever seen.
Many were also injured, sometimes during the protests, sometimes after being detained.
On Saturday, protesters congregated on the site where one demonstrator died.
Authorities say the 34-year-old was carrying an explosive device that detonated in his own hands and that he had planned to throw it at officers.
But many demonstrators do not buy that version of the story.
One told news portal tut.by that the protester had approached the police, but that there was no blast.
They also note that the man’s father was allegedly not allowed to view the body.
Flowers were laid and candles lit, with the images shared by smartphone on messaging service Telegram.
Some kneeled at the scene of last week’s clashes, since transformed into a field of bouquets.
“I didn’t know this young man, but he’s a hero to me,” said one woman.
“I want to thank him.
“We want a new president and peaceful new elections.”
It was one of two deaths reported amid a hectic week in the country.
The other was in the city of Gomel, where a 25-year old with a heart condition died after being taken into police custody.
The man’s mother said he was on his way to visit his girlfriend when he encountered the police.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of others gathered across the country for renewed protests against Mr Lukashenko’s victory.
In anticipation of another day of clashes, calls for calm came from the country’s artists and musicians.
As the country embarked on another day of protests, the country’s security teams were not engaging with the demonstrators.
But Mr Lukashenko made clear on Saturday that he was not prepared to let them have control.
“Nothing will come of that. We will never give up this country.
“Don’t play with fire. Our military has enough capacities to protect itself and its families and to provide for the security of our state.”
In a Saturday call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the two assured each other that the problem would soon be resolved, according to the Kremlin.
They agreed that the problems shouldn’t be utilised by “destructive forces” to minimise cooperation between the two countries.