Man sets himself on fire outside Belarus gov’t HQ: Police

The 35-year-old was taken to hospital after passers-by and police put out the flames with a fire extinguisher.

A general view shows the government and parliament headquarters in Minsk [File: Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters]

A 35-year-old man in Belarus set himself on fire outside the government headquarters in Minsk on Friday and was hospitalised after passers-by and police put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, police said.

The man could be seen on fire on a sprawling, largely empty square in the centre of Minsk near a statue of Lenin in video footage shared online.

Several people could be seen rushing towards him to try to put the flames out.

The motives for the man’s action were not immediately clear and investigators were working to establish the background, the Belarusian Investigative Committee said in a statement.

It said the man had doused himself with some liquid before setting himself alight.

Belarus has been rocked by rolling protests since a presidential election last year which the opposition says was rigged in favour of the incumbent, Alexander Lukashenko. He denies the vote-rigging allegations.

More than 30,000 protesters have been arrested, many killed and hundreds injured in the demonstrations.

The leader, who has been in power since 1994, last month said the country would hold a referendum on his suggested constitutional reforms that could clip presidential powers. He did not specify the timing of the polls.

Lukashenko’s political opponents, the most prominent of whom have been jailed or fled the country, have dismissed the reform proposals as a stalling tactic to help him ride out the protests and wider political crisis.

The alleged vote-rigging and the crackdown on Belarusian protesters have prompted the United States and the European Union to introduce sanctions against the country’s officials.

Source: Reuters