500 reported arrested in Belarus protests


Belarusian riot police block demonstrators gather to honor 31-year-old Raman Bandarenka, who died Thursday at a Minsk hospital after several hours of surgery due to serious injuries, during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. Protests have rocked Belarus since the August election that official results say gave Lukashenko a sixth term in office but that opponents and some polls workers claim were manipulated. (AP Photo)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A human rights group in Belarus said more than 500 people were arrested in protests around the country calling for authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko to step down.

The Sunday demonstrations continued the wave of near-daily protests that have gripped Belarus since early August. In the capital Minsk, police wielded clubs and used tear gas and water cannons to disperse thousands of demonstrators.

The Viasna human rights organization reported detentions at demonstrations in other cities, including Vitebsk and Gomel. It said the nationwide arrest numbers exceeded 500.

Many of the demonstrators carried placards in commemoration of Raman Bandarenka, an opposition supporter who died Thursday after reportedly being beaten in police detention.

A wide wave of protests, some attracting more than 100,000 people, broke out following the Aug. 9 presidential election that official results say gave Lukashenko a sixth term in office. The opposition and some poll workers say the results were manipulated.

Lukashenko, who has suppressed opposition and independent media during 26 years in power, refuses to negotiate with the opposition and alleges the protests are incited by Western countries.

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