Hundreds detained during 50th day of protests in Belarus

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Belarusian police on Sunday detained about 200 people and fired tear gas as around 100,000 protesters marched for the 50th consecutive day to demand president Alexander Lukashenko quit.

Belarus has been rocked by seven weeks of protests after Lukashenko, who has led the country since 1994, won a landslide victory in the August 9 election. The vote was denounced by EU and US officials, and forced Lukashenko to look to Moscow for support.

The opposition says that Lukashenko’s main challenger, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, was the rightful winner and wants new elections. Tikhanovskaya, who fled to Lithuania after the vote, won only about 10% to Lukashenko’s 80%, according to the election committee.

Protesters chanted “impostor” and “Sveta is our president” as they marched through Minsk and other cities decked out in red-and-white opposition colours.

Sunday’s rally came days after Lukashenko held a secret swearing-in ceremony for his sixth term in office, drawing condemnation from the EU, US and Britain.

Belarusian foreign minister Vladimir Makei on Saturday accused western countries preparing to impose new sanctions on Minsk of attempting to sow “chaos and anarchy”.

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