President Alexander Lukashenko faces pressure as mass rally continues in Belarus

President Alexander Lukashenko faces pressure as mass rally continues in Belarus

Sponsor
President Alexander Lukashenko faces pressure as mass rally continues in Belarus

The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko is now faced with pressure as protesters continue to gather in thousands to  perform mass rally.Tens of thousands have again taken to the streets in Belarus, facing off against riot police to protest against President Alexander Lukashenko.

A huge police presence cordoned off areas such as Independence Square in the capital, Minsk, and the interior ministry reported at least 140 arrests.

Protesters chanted "disgrace" and "leave" in standoffs with police.Belarus has been gripped by mass protests since the 9 August election, widely believed to have been rigged.

Mr Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years, has said he has no intention of stepping down and denies electoral fraud.

It was very tense, with large numbers of riot police facing off against lines of protesters carrying balloons, flowers and red-and-white opposition flags.

Reporting at the height of the protests, Steve Rosenberg in Minsk said there were far more police than on the past two Sundays when similar rallies were held. Some protesters lay down on the road to try to prevent riot police from moving, with others chanting "disgrace" and "go away".

One large group of protesters marched towards Mr 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.

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".

On Sunday, Germany said it was summoning the Belarus ambassador over the revocations of accreditation.


  • What did President Lukashenko say?

There is no direct word, although the interior ministry confirmed 140 arrests.

Mr Lukashenko's press secretary sent Russian media outlet RIA Novosti a picture of him carrying a machine gun outside the Independence Palace.Last Sunday, he was seen wearing a flak jacket and carrying an assault rifle.

Russian President Vladimir Putin telephoned Mr Lukashenko on his birthday and reportedly invited him to visit Moscow.

It appeared to be the latest sign of Kremlin support for a president who has not always been seen positively by Russia. But Mr Putin has said he has formed a police reserve force to intervene in Belarus if necessary, although "it won't be used until the situation gets out of control".

                                     
Sponsor