Moscow, November 1
Police in Belarus fired warning shots into the air and started detaining protesters on Sunday as thousands began to march in the capital Minsk to demand veteran leader Alexander Lukashenko leave power, media reports and social media footage showed.
Huge demonstrations have flooded the capital every weekend for 12 straight weeks, keeping up pressure on Lukashenko who has hung on despite the crisis and said he has no intention to quit.
This week he partially closed Belarus’s borders to the West, replaced his interior minister and said that any protesters who lay a hand on officers policing the protests should “at least leave without hands”.
There were at least two separate columns of protesters in Minsk, one of which numbered 20,000 people, the Nasha Niva newspaper reported.
Video posted on opposition social media showed a crowd of people chanting “We believe, we can, we will win!” while marching through the streets. Reuters could not independently verify the footage.
Mobile phone internet in the capital was unavailable and several metro stations were closed down. — Reuters