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Tens of thousands of Belarusians protest against government in Minsk

Published: Updated:

Tens of thousands of Belarusians joined an anti-government demonstration in central Minsk Sunday to protest President Alexander Lukashenko’s claim to a sixth term in disputed elections, an AFP journalist said.

Waving red-and-white opposition flags, protesters demanded Lukashenko’s resignation and chanted “freedom,” in a gathering that local media reported on Telegram channels had amassed crowds of more than 100,000 people.

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Protests unprecedented in Belarus for their size and duration broke out after the August 9 presidential election, which election officials say handed President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term in office in a landslide. Protesters allege the official results are fradulent and are calling for Lukashenko to resign.

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Police responded harshly in the first days of the protests, arresting some 7,000 people and harshly beating many of them. But the police crackdown only widened the scope of the protests, and anti-government strikes have been called at some of the country’s main factories, former bases of support for Lukashenko. Some police have posted videos of themselves burning their uniforms and quitting.

On Saturday, authorities in Belarus have blocked more than 50 news media websites reporting on how the country has been shaken by two weeks of protests demanding that Lukashenko resign after 26 years in power.

(With The Associated Press)