Huge protests rocked the Belarusian capital on Sunday in the third weekend of demonstrations against the contested result of the presidential election on August 9.
Dozens were detained while hundreds of people were blocked by riot police in the attempt to reach downtown Minsk.
Demonstrators were seen carrying the opposition’s red and white flags chanting slogans against President Alexander Lukashenko.
Protests swelled after Lukashenko claimed to have won 80% of the vote and secured a sixth term in office amid allegations of vote-rigging and violence against the opposition.
On Saturday, a thousand women marched in the capital to demand fresh elections and the prosecution of law enforcement officials who are accused of violence and torture. It comes a week after around 100,000 took to the streets demanding Lukashenko resigns.
International observers are stepping in to try to mediate the situation, but the government so far hasn’t appeared willing to soften its stance.
News organisations such as the BBC and AP said on Saturday several of their foreign journalists who were covering the unrest in Belarus were deported and others had their accreditations revoked.
Edi Rama, Albanian Prime Minister and chairperson-in-office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Friday it was “deeply alarming” that over 100 journalists had been detained, deported or subject to violence.
The EU is preparing sanctions against high-ranking Belarusian officials accused of vote-rigging and violence.
Lukashenko has accused the West of trying to topple him to weaken Moscow.
The leader has accused NATO of aggressively positioning forces along its borders with Poland and Lithuania and threatened both EU states with counter-sanctions.
NATO says the claims are baseless.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has said he stands ready to send forces to Belarus if the situation should spin “out of control”.__EuroNews