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Continued Protests in Minsk as Putin Wishes Lukashenko a Happy Birthday

By VOA News August 30, 2020

Tens of thousands protested in the Belarusian capital of Minsk Sunday, the president's birthday, demanding he resign.

Carrying red and white flags, which have become symbols of the opposition, protesters convened around Lukashenko's residence, facing security forces carrying shields and backed by prisoner vans and water cannons.

At least 140 protesters were arrested Sunday, according to the Interior Ministry, before peacefully dispersing in the evening.

Alexander Lukashenko, who turned 66 Sunday, was declared the winner of an August 9 election, amid widespread allegations of voter fraud. Lukashenko, in power for 26 years, denies any election irregularities. He walked around his residence, carrying an automatic rifle, for the second weekend in a row, a photo published by Russia's RIA news agency showed.

The main opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, said she would never accept the election results. She then fled to Lithuania for what she said was her children's safety.

Protests have rocked the country since the election results were announced, but Lukashenko has given no indication that he would consider stepping down. One of his aides, Nikolai Latyshenok, said there would be no talks with the opposition, Russian news agencies reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Lukashenko Sunday to wish him a happy birthday and invite him to Moscow. Putin has repeatedly offered support to Lukashenko as Belarus faces sanctions from the West.



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