Today's Paper Latest Elections Coronavirus 🔵 Covid Classroom Cooking Families Core values Story ideas iPad Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive
ADVERTISEMENT
story.lead_photo.caption Women, one of them with an old Belarusian national flags, march during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (AP Photo)

KYIV, Ukraine -- About 10,000 women marched through the Belarusian capital Saturday, beating pots and pans and shouting for the resignation of the country's authoritarian president in the 35th consecutive day of large anti-government protests.

Many carried portraits of Maria Kolesnikova, a leader of the opposition Coordination Council that is seeking a new election in the former Soviet nation of 9.5 million people. She was jailed last week after police tried to force her out of the country. Her lawyer says Kolesnikova was driven to the border with Ukraine, but tore up her passport and refused to leave Belarus.

Others carried placards saying, "You painted my heart with blue pain," referring to President Alexander Lukashenko's claim that some women had painted themselves to appear to have been bruised by police beatings.

Lukashenko refuses to meet with the council, and most of its leaders have been detained or have left the country.

Gallery: Belarus protests, 9-12-2020

[Gallery not loading above? Click here for more photos » arkansasonline.com/913belarus/]

The protests began Aug. 9 after a presidential election that officials say handed Lukashenko a sixth term in office with 80% support. Opponents and some poll workers say the results were rigged. Some protesters have displayed bruises from a violent police crackdown in the days after the election, when more than 7,000 protesters were detained.

The protests are the largest and most widespread of Lukashenko's 26 years in power. Sunday demonstrations in the capital of Minsk have repeatedly brought out crowds of more than 100,000. Protests have broken out in other major cities and strikes have hit some of the country's major state-owned industries, previously a base of support for the 66-year-old leader.

Lukashenko met Saturday with top officials of the country's security agencies. Throughout the unrest, he has rejected any concessions, has repeatedly accused Belarus' Western neighbors of preparing to overthrow his government and has made shows of aggressive defiance -- including striding with an automatic rifle across the grounds of his presidential residence.

As the protests persist, questions loom about possible action by Russia to prop up his regime. Lukashenko is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, in their first face-to-face contact since the unrest began.

Putin has said he stands ready to send Russian police to Belarus if protests turn violent, stoking fears that Moscow could move to annex its neighbor. The countries have a union agreement envisaging close political, economic and military ties, although Lukashenko has repeatedly expressed concerns that Russia wants to absorb Belarus.

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

A woman waves an old Belarusian national flag from a window of a car during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (Tut.by via AP)
A woman waves an old Belarusian national flag from a window of a car during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (Tut.by via AP)
Women react, standing in front of police line during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (Tut.by via AP)
Women react, standing in front of police line during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (Tut.by via AP)
Police officers detain protesters, pushing them into a police bus during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (AP Photo)
Police officers detain protesters, pushing them into a police bus during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (AP Photo)
Women block a police bus during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. (Tut.by via AP)
Women block a police bus during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. (Tut.by via AP)
Women attend an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (Tut.by via AP)
Women attend an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (Tut.by via AP)
Women react, standing in front of police line during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (Tut.by via AP)
Women react, standing in front of police line during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (Tut.by via AP)
A detained woman gestures from a police bus during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (AP Photo)
A detained woman gestures from a police bus during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (AP Photo)
Women react, standing in front of police line during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (Tut.by via AP)
Women react, standing in front of police line during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (Tut.by via AP)
Police officers block and detain protesters during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (AP Photo/Misha Friedman)
Police officers block and detain protesters during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. Daily protests calling for the authoritarian president's resignation are now in their second month and opposition determination appears strong despite the detention of protest leaders. (AP Photo/Misha Friedman)
ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsor Content

COMMENTS - It looks like you're using Internet Explorer, which isn't compatible with the Democrat-Gazette commenting system. You can join the discussion by using another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome.
It looks like you're using Microsoft Edge. The Democrat-Gazette commenting system is more compatible with Firefox and Google Chrome.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT