İrem UZUN -TDO- Belarus’ authorities on Thursday shut the borders with several neighbors for most travelers amid the government’s efforts to end months of protests demanding the resignation of the country’s authoritarian leader.  Border Control Committee of Belarus said the closure of borders is intended to stem the coronavirus infection.  The move, however, follows Belarusian officials’ claims that its neighbors have tried to destabilize the situation in the country.

“There is a need to tighten security on the Belarusian border with Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine, refraining from building an iron curtain,” Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said, after he has named a new interior minister on Thursday. Belarus can be entered only by diplomats, truck drivers and train crews. Belarus authorities also said that the border crossing at Minsk's international airport is unaffected by the border closures and will continue to function as normal.  The Foreign Ministry added that the Belarus-announced restrictions concern only foreigners, Belarus citizens are free to enter their country.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, his main opponent who fled into exile after the election and called for the strike, said the president’s actions were a sign of weakness.  “The regime destroys itself. Both the closure of the borders and the next appointments are signals of a weakening of his power. He makes inconsistent decisions because he is in a panic,” she said in a statement.

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