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More than 100 detained as thousands of anti-Lukashenko protesters march in Belarus

Click to play video 'Belarus forces detain more than 100 protesters at pro-democracy rallies' Belarus forces detain more than 100 protesters at pro-democracy rallies
WATCH: Belarus forces detain more than 100 protesters at pro-democracy rallies – Nov 29, 2020

Thousands of demonstrators marched in the Belarus capital Minsk and elsewhere on Sunday as weekly protests demanding the resignation of veteran President Alexander Lukashenko continued, prompting police to detain more than 100 people.

Belarus, a country of 9.5 million that Russia sees as a security buffer against NATO, has been rocked by mass protests since an Aug. 9 presidential election which Lukashenko said he won. His opponents claim the vote was rigged and want him to quit.

Most protesters marched in remote residential areas of the capital, clapping hands, shouting “long live Belarus” and waving white flags with a red stripe in the middle, a symbol of the opposition.

Read more: Belarus police arrest nearly 150 demonstrators as anti-government protests continue

“This (protest) does work as it is impossible to rule the country when the majority does not accept you. With protests we are showing that we are the majority,” said one of the protesters Alisa, 21.

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Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years, has shrugged off the scale of protests, saying they are sponsored by the West, and shown little signs of willingness to start a dialog with the opposition.

Military vehicles and water cannon were seen on Minsk streets on Sunday, while uniformed men, many in helmets, grabbed people in civilian clothes, a witness aid and videos posted on social media showed.

Click to play video 'Belarus protests: Police fire warning shots as tens of thousands flood Minsk streets' Belarus protests: Police fire warning shots as tens of thousands flood Minsk streets
Belarus protests: Police fire warning shots as tens of thousands flood Minsk streets – Nov 1, 2020

The Belarusian Viasna-96 (Spring-96) rights group said at least 100 people had been detained across the country as of Sunday afternoon.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged political forces in Belarus to try to resolve differences through dialog, and also said the ex-Soviet republic, a close Moscow ally, was facing unprecedented meddling by external forces.

Russia’s backing is seen as vital for Lukashenko’s chances of staying in power and its statements are closely scrutinized for changes in tone or any sign that Moscow could be pushing for some kind of managed power transition.

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