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story.lead_photo.caption Protesters in Minsk, Belarus, confront police Sunday at a bar- ricade that blocks off Independence Palace, the residence of President Alexander Lukashenko. More photos at arkansasonline. com/97belarus/. (AP)

KYIV, Ukraine -- Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched to the outskirts of the presidential residence in the capital of Belarus on Sunday, calling for the country's authoritarian leader to resign as protests against President Alexander Lukashenko entered their fifth week.

Protests also took place in major cities throughout Belarus, said Interior Ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova. Crowd sizes for those protests were not immediately reported, but Ales Bialiatski, head of the Viasna human-rights organization, said the demonstration in Minsk attracted more than 100,000 people.

The protests, unprecedented in Belarus for their size and duration, began after the Aug. 9 presidential vote that election officials said gave Lukashenko a sixth term in office with 80% support. Protesters say the results were rigged, and some have explained to Associated Press journalists exactly how the fraud took place in their districts.

Lukashenko has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1994, regularly repressing dissent and press freedom.

Police violently cracked down on demonstrators in the first days of the protests, arresting some 7,000 people and beating hundreds. Although they have scaled back, detentions continue; Viasna reported scores of people were arrested in Minsk and in the city of Grodno on Sunday.

Police and army troops blocked off the center of Minsk on Sunday, but demonstrators marched to the outskirts of the Palace of Independence, the president's working residence 2 miles outside the city center. The palace grounds were blocked off by phalanxes of shield-bearing riot police and water cannons.

"This sea of ​​people cannot be stopped by military equipment, water cannons, propaganda and arrests. Most Belarusians want a peaceful change of power and we will not get tired of demanding this," said Maria Kolesnikova, a leader of the Coordination Council set up by the opposition to try to arrange a dialogue with the 66-year-old Lukashenko about a transition of power.

She spoke with The Associated Press by phone.

Lukashenko has rejected any discussion with the council and some of its top members have been jailed. One of them, Olga Kovalova, was expelled from the country over the weekend, driven to Poland by police.

Despite the stalemate between Lukashenko and the opposition, protesters say they are determined not to tire. Some of the placards they carried Sunday showed a lively sense of humor.

"Lukashenko, start building a house near Yanukovych," read one, referring to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia in 2014 after months of anti-government protests.

"The collective farm went bankrupt," said another, evoking Lukashenko's former position as a collective farm director and his retention of a largely state-controlled Soviet-style economy for Belarus, an Eastern European nation of 9.5 million people.

Gallery: Belarus protests continue

[Gallery not loading above? Click here for more photos » arkansasonline.com/97belarus/]

Authorities also have revoked the accreditation of many Belarusian journalists and deported some foreign journalists, including two Moscow-based Associated Press journalists. AP's Belarusian journalists were among those told their press credentials had been revoked.

​​​​​Information for this article was contributed by Jim Heintz of The Associated Press.

Riot police line block the road to stop Belarusian opposition supporters rally near the Palace of Independence in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
Riot police line block the road to stop Belarusian opposition supporters rally near the Palace of Independence in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
LGBT activists react together, with an old Belarusian national flag, in front of a police barricade blocking a street during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
LGBT activists react together, with an old Belarusian national flag, in front of a police barricade blocking a street during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
Flowers lie on the barbed wire separating Belarusian servicemen and Belarusian opposition supporters during a rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
Flowers lie on the barbed wire separating Belarusian servicemen and Belarusian opposition supporters during a rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
Protester carry a huge old Belarusian national flag during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
Protester carry a huge old Belarusian national flag during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
A woman holds a caricature of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
A woman holds a caricature of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
LGBT activists perform with rainbow flags and an old Belarusian national flag, in front of a police barricade blocking a street during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
LGBT activists perform with rainbow flags and an old Belarusian national flag, in front of a police barricade blocking a street during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
Belarusian opposition supporters with old Belarusian national flags gather toward the Independence Palace, the residential of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
Belarusian opposition supporters with old Belarusian national flags gather toward the Independence Palace, the residential of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
Belarusian opposition supporters gather in front of police line toward the Independence Palace, residence of the President Alexander Lukashenko, in the background, in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
Belarusian opposition supporters gather in front of police line toward the Independence Palace, residence of the President Alexander Lukashenko, in the background, in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Sunday's demonstration marked the beginning of the fifth week of daily protests calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's resignation in the wake of allegedly manipulated elections. (AP Photo/TUT.by)
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