As Belarus Protests Enter Sixth Month, Lukashenka Repeats Vague Promise Of Change.

MINSK -- With widespread protests against his regime in Belarus entering their sixth month, Alyaksandr Lukashenka has repeated previous pledges to draft a new constitution by the end of this year and put it to a referendum.

Similar promises by the 66-year-old Lukashenka have been dismissed by the embattled opposition as stalling tactics.

The latest pledge -- via Russian television -- comes with scattered protests continuing across the country on January 10 despite the threat of violent suppression by police and security forces.

Security officers were out in force in Minsk and other cities on January 10 to intimidate possible participants in weekly Sunday demonstrations of opposition, with officers quickly stepping in to arrest people in some cases.

Lukashenka's declaration of victory for a sixth presidential term after a heavily fettered election on August 9 set off months of unprecedented opposition that has been ruthlessly countered with mass arrests, beatings, and strictures on media and public gatherings.

In a recorded interview with Russian state television ahead of the Orthodox New Year that begins on January 14, Lukashenka again dangled talk of changes but declined to specify what they might be.

"I think that by the end of next year, the draft of a new constitution will be ready," TASS quoted him as saying. "And then in a referendum, people will decide whether to have a new constitution or not."

Crisis In Belarus

Read our coverage as Belarusians take to the streets to demand the resignation of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and call for new elections after official results from the August 9 presidential poll gave Lukashenka a landslide victory.

Lukashenka has repeatedly used dubious referendums and noncompetitive elections to consolidate the state and keep himself in power since he became post-Soviet Belarus's first president in 1994.

But the pot boiled over after the August election, which took place with would-be opposition candidates rejected or jailed and dissidents rounded up beforehand.

Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the wife of one of those jailed aspirants, has fled into exile over fears of arrest and claims she won the vote.

She and other opposition figures -- many of them forced to flee or expelled from the country -- have rejected Lukashenka's vague promises of future constitutional changes as a tactic to defuse the protests that have attracted hundreds of thousands of Belarusians to demand his exit and new elections.

They say it is a matter of time until he is forced to leave.

Protest actions -- kept small and scattershot to avoid tipping off police beforehand -- were reported on January 10 in Minsk and Vitebsk. Arrests soon followed.

WATCH: In an effort to avoid detention, protesters have resorted to flash-mob tactics and engage in smaller and shorter marches outside city centers as opposed to large-scale demonstrations that have become an easier target for the security forces.

Lukashenka has rejected dialogue, and has leaned heavily on support from Moscow to withstand the international condemnation.

More than 30,000 Belarusians have been taken into police custody in the 155 days of protest since the vote.

Western governments and pro-democracy groups have also demanded that Lukashenka clear a path to new elections and stop the roundups and brutal suppression of dissent.

Amid the Orthodox holidays, the Vatican this month said Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Minsk, who was briefly prevented from reentering Belarus after he criticized the government's harsh crackdown on the protests.

It was unclear whether Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz's resignation had been expected.

Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

https://www.rferl.org/

Related news
Iran Holds Anti-Warship Missile Drill Amid Tensions With U.

Iran Holds Anti-Warship Missile Drill Amid Tensions With U.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has conducted the second and last phase of a drill launching anti-warship ballistic missiles at a simulated target in the Indian Ocean, state television reported.

Radio Free Europe

Bosnia Urged To Swiftly Handle Dire Migrant Humanitarian Situation.

Bosnia Urged To Swiftly Handle Dire Migrant Humanitarian Situation.

Bosnia-Herzegovina is under mounting pressure to address the future of thousands of stranded migrants and asylum seekers, with the EU and a top European human rights official joining a chorus of calls demanding that authorities address the unfoldi...

Radio Free Europe

ABC News exclusive interview provides new insight on Jacob Blake shooting.

ABC News exclusive interview provides new insight on Jacob Blake shooting.

Sonia Pruitt and LZ Granderson discuss alternative actions officers could have taken, plus the overall impact Jacob Blake will have on the fight for racial equality.

Fire Destroys Homes in Rohingya Refugee Camp

Fire Destroys Homes in Rohingya Refugee Camp

A fire raced through a sprawling Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh on Thursday, destroying hundreds of homes, officials said. No casualties were reported. The U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees said more than 550 homes sheltering about ...

World Health Organization team arrives in Wuhan to investigate COVID-19's origins.

World Health Organization team arrives in Wuhan to investigate COVID-19's origins.

A team from the World Health Organization has arrived in Wuhan, China, to begin its investigation into where and how the coronavirus first started. The team of 10 scientists will work to figure out how the virus jumped from animals to humans, but ...

ABC News Live Update: Nearly all US metro areas facing a COVID-19 resurgence.

ABC News Live Update: Nearly all US metro areas facing a COVID-19 resurgence.

Stadiums and arenas are being turned into vaccine mega-centers, plus President Trump is the first president in history to be impeached twice with 10 House Republicans voting to impeach. WATCH the ABC News Live Stream Here: SUBSCRIBE to ABC NEWS: W...

Pelosi proposes fines for lawmakers who evade metal detectors.

Pelosi proposes fines for lawmakers who evade metal detectors.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Wednesday said the chamber plans to adopt new rules charging members fines for refusing to go through newly installed metal detectors in the U.S. Capitol or refusing to comply with security following last week’s deadly a...

WHO Team Arrives in Wuhan as China Reports First COVID Death in 8 Months.

WHO Team Arrives in Wuhan as China Reports First COVID Death in 8 Months.

A global team of researchers from the World Health Organization arrived, Thursday, January 14, to Wuhan, China to investigate the origin of the Coronavirus. ————————— READ MORE: China has reported its first COVID-19 death in eight months amid a su...