Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters packed the streets of Minsk on Sunday (August 23) despite warnings they could now come up against the Belarusian military.
The defense ministry said it had now taken over the protection of memorials following weeks of protests calling for President Alexander Lukashenko to step down.
In a statement the ministry described protesters as "fascists" and said, in capital letters, that if there was any violation of peace and order around monuments, quote: "YOU WILL HAVE THE ARMY TO DEAL WITH NOW, NOT THE POLICE".
Olga, one of the protesters, said everyone in Minsk's Independence Square was afraid but that they have more faith than fear.
Tens of thousands have protested since the country's election on August 9, which they say was rigged.
Lukashenko's opponent in that poll, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, fled to Lithuania for security reasons -
but on Saturday (August 22) told Reuters that she would not step away from her mission.
"I understand that I am in safety here but all the people who voted for me, who stayed in Belarus and who are going on demonstrations now and who are striking now, they need me as a symbol."
On Sunday Moscow, a powerful neighbor and ally for Belarus, issued some of its strongest criticism yet of Tsikhanouskaya.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described her role as intentionally destabilizing and said her statements were directed at a Western audience.
He added that there was no way to prove that Lukashenko did not win the election, as there were no international observers present.