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Thousands take to Belarus streets against Lukashenko

Thousands take to Belarus streets against Lukashenko

Minsk: Tens of thousands of protesters against took to the streets in Belarus, facing off against riot police to demonstrate against President Alexander Lukashenko, the media reported on Monday.

On Sunday, a large numbers of riot police faced off against lines of protesters carrying balloons, flowers and red-and-white opposition flags, the BBC reported.

Police cordoned off areas such as Independence Square in the capital, Minsk, and the Interior Ministry reported at least 140 arrests.

While some protesters chanted “disgrace” and “leave” protesters, others on the road to try to prevent riot police from moving.

Some mocked Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, on his 66th birthday, carrying a cockroach puppet and chanting “happy birthday, you rat”.

One large group of protesters marched towards Lukashenko’s residence at the Independence Palace, which was heavily protected by riot police and water cannon vehicles.

Armoured personnel carriers were seen moving in the area, although reports later said they were also seen leaving and that the crowds were dispersing largely peacefully.

Other smaller protests were reported in towns such as Brest and Grodno.

Meanwhile, journalists continue to face issues reporting the unrest.

On Saturday, the authorities withdrew the accreditation of 17 reporters, most of them Belarusian citizens who have been reporting for foreign media outlets.

Two journalists with the BBC’s Russian service were among those affected.

In a statement, the BBC said it condemned “in the strongest possible terms this stifling of independent journalism”.

Belarus has been witnessing mass protests after Lukashenko won a sixth term in the August 9 elections.

According to official results, he won more than 80 per cent of the votes and opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya garnered only 10 per cent.

There were no independent observers and the opposition has alleged massive vote rigging.

The European Union has also refused to recognize the results and threatened to impose sanctions.

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