Heavy security for rally against Belarus leader


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Media captionBBC’s Steve Rosenberg amid the stand-off between protesters and riot police

Tens of thousands have again taken to the streets in Belarus, facing off against riot police to protest against President Alexander Lukashenko.

A huge police presence has cordoned off areas such as Independence Square in the capital, Minsk, and the interior ministry reports 125 arrests so far.

Protesters are chanting “disgrace” and “leave” in standoffs with police.

Belarus has been gripped by mass protests since the 9 August election, widely believed to have been rigged.

Mr Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years, has said he has no intention of stepping down and denies electoral fraud.

What is the latest on the streets?

It is very tense, with large numbers of riot police facing off against lines of protesters carrying balloons, flowers and red-and-white opposition flags.

The BBC’s Steve Rosenberg in Minsk says there are far more police than during previous protests on the past two Sundays. He says some protesters are lying down on the road to try to prevent riot police from moving, with others chanting “disgrace” and “go away”.

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There appeared to be far more police on the streets than for previous protests

Some mocked Mr Lukashenko on his 66th birthday, carrying a cockroach puppet and chanting “happy birthday, you rat”.

One large group of protesters marched towards Mr Lukashenko’s residence at the Independence Palace, which was heavily protected by riot police and water cannon vehicles. Armoured personnel carriers were seen moving to the area to defend it.

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Media captionDefiance and arrests in the streets of the Belarus capital, Minsk

Many streets were blocked off by police in Minsk to try to prevent people reaching the main protest areas.

Other smaller protests are reported in towns such as Brest and Grodno.

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Vast numbers gathered around the Hero City

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