400 Protesters Reportedly Detained In Belarus, Demand Lukashenko Resignation

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Over 400 protesters were reportedly detained Sunday in Minsk, the capital city of Belarus, after demanding President Alexander Lukashenko resign.

Minsk was guarded by soldiers who blocked off portions of the city center with water cannons, barbed wire and armored carriers, according to the Associated Press

Opposition supporters hold a former white-red-white flag of Belarus as they parade through the streets during a demonstration called by the opposition movement for an end to the regime of authoritarian leader in Minsk on September 20, 2020. (Photo by – / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

Protests erupted after Lukashenko was elected to serve a sixth term as president on August 9, which many suspect was a fixed election. His opponent, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, is in exile in Lithuania. (RELATED: Belarus’s Contested President Launches Criminal Probe Against Opponents As He Clings To Power)

Lukashenko has been in power since 1994.

An estimated 200,000 people were protesting Sunday in Minsk, according to human rights activists. Demonstrations have inundated the country for more than six weeks since Lukashenko’s re-election.  (RELATED: Journalist Says 2 Former State TV Hosts In Belarus Were ‘Arrested In The Middle Of The Night’ For Supporting Protests)

A man gestures as he stands in front of law enforcement officers blocking the road during a demonstration in Minsk on September 20, 2020. (Photo by -/AFP/ Getty Images)

Authorities have also targeted leaders of The Coordination Council, an activist group that opposes Lukashenko. Members have been arrested or forced out of Belarus by Belarusian authorities, according to the Associated Press.

Council member Maria Kolesnikova’s appeal of arrest was rejected Monday. She is being charged with undermining the state and could spend five years in prison. 

The opposition blog, Nexta Live, leaked personal information of more than 1,000 police officers Saturday. The blog threatened to release additional information if more members are arrested.

Tsikhanouskaya released a video statement Monday condemning the violence against protesters and asked the police to stop using brutal force. (RELATED: Belarus Opposition Leader Flees Country After Allegedly Rigged Election)

“Be with the Belarusian people, and the people will not forget that you were on their side,” she said in the video. 

People gather on September 20, 2020 in Minsk for a demonstration called by opposition movement for an end to the regime of authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko.(Photo by -/TUT.BY/AFP/Getty Images)

Lukashenko is relying on the police, head of the Viasna human rights group, Ales Bialiatski, told the AP on Monday.

“Loyalty of the security forces is critical for Lukashenko’s ability to hang on to power,” Bialiatski said to the AP. “It is by the hands of these people that large-scale political repression is carried out in the center of Europe.”