Police have dispersed an all-female rally in Minsk, where protesters were demanding the resignation of longtime President Alexander Lukashenko. More than 100 arrests have been made.
Around 2,000 people, mainly women, flowed onto the streets of the country’s main city on Saturday for an unsanctioned protest event.
They were eventually blocked outside a shopping mall by security forces wearing green uniforms and balaclavas. “Only cowards beat women,” the protesters shouted, according to Reuters, as the police started detaining people in large numbers.
Among those arrested was 73-year-old activist Nina Baginskaya, who became famous after scuffling with a police officer in August. A cameraman in a press vest was also detained.
Three people at the march reportedly became ill, with one woman suffering an epileptic seizure, prompting ambulances to arrive at the scene. A police spokeswoman confirmed the detentions, with TASS reporting that at least 100 people had been taken into custody.
All-female marches have become a regular feature during the wave of protests which engulfed Belarus after the presidential election on August 9. They usually take place on Saturdays, followed by larger rallies on Sundays.
Thousands took to the streets following the August election, after the opposition claimed that the poll – which saw Lukashenko re-elected with over 80 percent of the votes – was rigged.
Opposition figures and protesters insist that their candidate, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who has since fled to Lithuania, was deprived of a rightful win.
Police responded to the protests with mass arrests, detaining 6,700 people in the first few days alone. The Belarusian authorities have been accused of using excessive force against the demonstrators and of mistreating those detained.
Three protesters have died since the beginning of the unrest, with hundreds, including police officers themselves, being injured. Lukashenko has accused Western nations of stoking the unrest in an effort to see him replaced.
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