The army and security forces have blockaded Minsk city centre as more than 100,000 demonstrators demand the Belarusian President quit over ‘rigged’ election victory.
Protests against President Alexander Lukashenko entered their fifth week as tens of thousands of demonstrators marched to the outskirts of his presidential residence in the capital.
Protests calling for the country’s authoritarian leader to resign also took place in major cities throughout Belarus, said Interior Ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova.
More than 100,000 demonstrators took to the streets in Minsk, Belarus, to demand the President quit over ‘rigged’ election victory
The army and security forces have blockaded Minsk city centre as protesters marched to the presidential residence
Protests against President Alexander Lukashenko, pictured, entered their fifth week
Demonstrators place flowers in barbed wire as they protested against the presidential vote they say was rigged
The protests, unprecedented in Belarus for their size and duration, began after the August 9 presidential vote
Crowd sizes for those protests were not immediately reported, but Ales Bialiatski, head of the Viasna human rights organisation, said the demonstration in Minsk attracted more than 100,000 people.
The protests, unprecedented in Belarus for their size and duration, began after the August 9 presidential vote that election officials said gave Mr Lukashenko a sixth term in office with 80% support.
Protesters say the results were rigged. Mr Lukashenko, 66, has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1994, regularly repressing dissent and press freedom.
Police cracked down on demonstrators in the first days of the protests, and reportedly arrested some 7,000 people.
Police cracked down on demonstrators in the first days of the protests, arresting some 7,000 people
Protesters marched towards Mr Lukashenko’s residence which is three kilometres outside Minsk
Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched during an opposition rally calling for the President to resign
A protester stands in front of barbed wire wearing a poncho to keep dry from the rain during the demonstration
Although they have scaled back, detentions continue and it was reported scores of people were arrested in Minsk and in the city of Grodno, in western Belarus, on Sunday.
Police and army troops blocked off the centre of Minsk on Sunday, but demonstrators marched to the outskirts of the Palace of Independence, the president’s working residence three kilometres (two miles) outside the city centre.
The palace grounds were blocked off by riot police armed with shields and water cannons.
Maria Kolesnikova, a leader of the Co-ordination Council set up by the opposition to try to arrange a dialogue with Mr Lukashenko about a transition of power, said: ‘This sea of people cannot be stopped by military equipment, water cannons, propaganda and arrests.
A woman holds a sign with a caricature of Mr Lukashenko during the rally
Demonstrators stand in front of the police blockade waving an old Belarusian national flag and a LGBT rainbow flag
A protestor wears a mask with the colours of the national flag at the rally to reject the election results
The palace grounds were blocked off by riot police armed with shields and water cannons
‘Most Belarusians want a peaceful change of power and we will not get tired of demanding this.’
Mr Lukashenko has rejected any discussion with the council, and some of its top members have been jailed.
One of them, Olga Kovalova, was expelled from the country over the weekend, driven to Poland by police.
Despite the stalemate between Mr Lukashenko and the opposition, protesters in the Eastern European nation with a population of 9.5 million, say they will not tire.
Authorities have also revoked the accreditation of many Belarusian journalists and deported some foreign journalists, including two Moscow-based Associated Press journalists.
Riot police holding shields stand behind barbed wire and block off access to the Independent Palace
A man waves a wooden rifle as opposition supporters gather in front of the police line
Demonstrators draped in flags gather during the rally against the results of the recent election
Protesters gather outside the residence of Mr Lukashenko during the peaceful protest