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Belarus pensioners call for departure of country’s leader in protest

Over 2,000 retired people marched down a central avenue in Minsk.

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Belarus pensioners wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus attend an opposition rally (AP)

Belarus pensioners wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus attend an opposition rally (AP)

Belarus pensioners wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus attend an opposition rally (AP)

Large crowds of retired people staged a protest in the Belarus capital to demand the resignation of the country’s authoritarian leader who won his sixth terms in office in a disputed election.

Over 2,000 pensioners marched down a central avenue in Minsk in what has turned into a regular Monday rally, carrying red and white flags that have become the main symbol of the country’s protests.

They also held aloft portraits of opposition supporter Raman Bandarenka, who died earlier this month after reportedly being beaten by security forces.

“Grandmothers and grandfathers heal poorly from new wounds,” read one of the banners carried by demonstrators.

At one point the crowd ran into a police cordon and broke up into smaller groups that went into different directions.

Mass protests gripped Belarus since official results from the August 9 presidential election gave President Alexander Lukashenko a landslide victory over his widely popular opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

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Protesting pensioners walk in Minsk (AP)

Protesting pensioners walk in Minsk (AP)

Protesting pensioners walk in Minsk (AP)

She and her supporters refused to recognise the result, saying the vote was riddled with fraud.

Authorities have cracked down hard on the largely peaceful demonstrations, the largest of which attracted up to 200,000 people.

Police used stun grenades, tear gas and truncheons to disperse the rallies.

Thousands have been detained and many of them beaten since the election, human rights advocates say.

Belarus’ Interior Ministry said on Monday that 345 people were detained during protests across the country a day earlier.

The Viasna human rights centre puts the number at 390.

According to Viasna, at least one person was detained at Monday’s protest.

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