Belarus says police detained about 700 protesters overnight

WION Web Team Minsk, Belarus Aug 13, 2020, 03.31 PM(IST)

Protests in Belarus Photograph:( Reuters )

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Security forces have clashed daily with protesters since Lukashenko claimed a landslide re-election victory in a vote on Sunday that his opponents say was rigged.

Belarusian police detained about 700 people on a fourth night of protests following President Alexander Lukasheko's contested election victory.

Security forces have clashed daily with protesters since Lukashenko claimed a landslide re-election victory in a vote on Sunday that his opponents say was rigged.

On Wednesday, in several parts of Minsk, groups of hundreds of people formed human chains.

Similar protests were held in at least five other cities.

Police dispersed protesters with tear gas, stun grenades, water cannons and rubber bullets and severely beat them with truncheons. Black-uniformed officers chased protesters into residential buildings and deliberately targetted journalists, beating many and breaking their cameras.

In three previous nights of protests, at least 6,000 people were detained and hundreds injured, according to the official count.

On Wednesday, protesters formed human chains and marched through the streets of Belarus carrying flowers.

A former Soviet collective farm manager, the 65-year-old Lukashenko has ruled Belarus for more than a quarter of a century but faces increasing anger over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a sluggish economy and human rights.

Women dressed in white formed a human chain outside a covered food market in the capital Minsk, holding flowers in the air and chanting slogans, while a crowd also gathered outside a prison where protesters were being kept.

The Belarusian interior ministry said 51 protesters and 14 police officers had been injured in clashes on Tuesday night.

In Brest, a city in southwestern Belarus on the Polish border, police fired live rounds after some protesters it said were armed with metal bars ignored warning shots fired in the air, the ministry said. One person was injured.
Lukashenko has accused the protesters of being in cahoots with foreign backers from Russia and elsewhere to topple his government, and compared them to criminal gangs.

Belarusian authorities earlier tied opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's husband to a plot by suspected Russian mercenaries to destabilise the country ahead of the election. She denied the allegation in an interview with Reuters.

Tsikhanouskaya, a 37-year-old former English teacher who took on Lukashenko in the vote, has fled to neighbouring Lithuania to join her children there. She urged her compatriots not to oppose the police and to avoid putting their lives in danger.

But the protests continued into the evening on Wednesday as thousands took to the streets of the capital.

(with inputs from agencies)