Over one hundred protesters were arrested Sunday by riot police in Belarus during the latest mass opposition demonstration challenging the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko, an AFP journalist reported.
The police, alongside masked and armed soldiers, were trying to disperse protesters gathered in the center of Minsk for the third consecutive weekend.
Russian President Vladimir Putin used a birthday phone call on Sunday to invite Lukashenko to visit Moscow, a Kremlin show of support as thousands of protesters streamed into central Minsk demanding Lukashenko step down.
President Lukashenko, who turned 66 on Sunday, is struggling to contain three weeks of protests and strikes since winning an Aug. 9 election that his opponents say was rigged.
He denies electoral fraud and has said the protests are backed from abroad.
“It was agreed to hold a meeting in Moscow in the coming weeks,” the Kremlin said in a statement after the leaders’ call.
Belarus is Russia’s closest ex-Soviet ally and its territory is an integral part of Moscow’s European defense strategy.