Dozens of protesters in Belarus were arrested Sunday during the 10th straight weekend of demonstrations against longtime authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Since the president claimed victory in a disputed August 9 election, protesters have regularly taken to the streets demanding his resignation and the release of political prisoners.
Videos from the latest demonstration show security forces using water cannon and batons to disperse crowds. Minsk police said they detained “several dozen” people.
The clashes follow an unusual meeting between Lukashenko and jailed opposition leaders Saturday.
“The goal of the president was to hear everyone’s opinion,” his office said of the visit. Lukashenko’s main opposition candidate in the election, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, is now based in Lithuania after fleeing Belarus for her safety.
Lukashenko maintains he won the poll in a landslide — garnering 80% of all ballots — despite widespread claims at home and abroad the vote was heavily rigged to keep him in power. He has been in office for 26 years.
Public anger has stewed over the crackdown in the wake of the protests that have seen more than 7,500 arrests and police violence against demonstrators.
Hundreds have emerged from police custody with bruises and tales of torture at the hands of Lukashenko’s security agents.
Lukashenko has said the protests are encouraged and supported by the West and accused NATO of moving forces near Belarusian borders. The alliance has denied the accusations.
Voice of America – English