ENTERTAINMENT

Tens of thousands of demonstrators organize the "March for Freedom" in Minsk


Tens of thousands of supporters of the Belarusian opposition gathered in Minsk this afternoon to take part in a "March for Freedom" over the controversial re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko.

The protesters sang "Leave!" And marched down Independence Avenue after the opposition called for the largest rally in a week since the vote.

Columns of demonstrators raised victory signs and held flowers and balloons. Many wore white, the color symbolizing the opposition movement. These marchers included a group of experienced paratroopers in uniform berets.

Tens of thousands of supporters of the Belarusian opposition take part in a rally in the center of Minsk on August 16

A supporter of the Belarusian opposition with a drawing of a former white, red and white flag of Belarus used against the government blows up during a demonstration in central Minsk on August 16

A supporter of the Belarusian opposition with a drawing of a former white, red and white flag of Belarus used against the government blows up during a demonstration in central Minsk on August 16

& # 39; The elections were valid. Not more than 80 percent of the votes could be forged. We're not going to hand over the land, ”he said

& # 39; The elections were valid. Not more than 80 percent of the votes could be forged. We're not going to hand over the land, ”he said

Protesters held posters with slogans such as "We are against violence" and "Lukashenko must answer for the torture and the dead".

Protesters walked through the city with a 100-meter-long red and white flag, which was once the state flag and now represents the opposition to the current regime.

They sang "Long live Belarus!" and asked Lukashenko to go! when cars honked horns in support.

People take part in a protest against the results of the presidential election calling for the resignation of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and the release of political prisoners

People take part in a protest against the results of the presidential election calling for the resignation of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and the release of political prisoners

Former Belarusian paratroopers take part in a protest against the results of the presidential election demanding the resignation of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and the release of political prisoners on August 16 in Minsk, Belarus

Former Belarusian paratroopers take part in a protest against the results of the presidential election demanding the resignation of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and the release of political prisoners on August 16 in Minsk, Belarus

Members of the Belarusian diaspora and Ukrainian activists take part in a rally in support of the Belarusian people who are protesting the election fraud in the presidential elections on August 16 in central Kiev

Members of the Belarusian diaspora and Ukrainian activists take part in a rally in support of the Belarusian people who are protesting against election fraud in the presidential elections on August 16 in central Kiev

The protests came when Lukashenko held a rally for supporters in central Minsk calling on them to save the country from destruction.

While the mass protests against his rule continued, Lukashenko spoke on the capital's Independence Square and blew up his opponents as "rats".

Speaking to supporters, he said: "I called you here not to defend myself … but for the first time in a quarter of a century to defend your country and its independence."

Lukashenko, who was under pressure from the European Union to take action against his opponents, said NATO tanks and planes were stationed 15 minutes outside the Belarusian border.

NATO said it was closely following the situation in Belarus, but there had been no military build-up on the country's western border.

The strong man who has ruled Belarus for the past 26 years faces the greatest challenge to his leadership as a growing protest movement sparked by brutal police crackdown.

"I'm not a fan of rallies, but unfortunately it's not my fault that I had to call you to help me," said the 65-year-old as about 10,000 supporters waved national flags and said, "Thank you!" and "Belarus!"

Members of the Belarusian diaspora and Ukrainian activists take part in a rally in support of the Belarusian people who are protesting against election fraud in the presidential elections on August 16 in central Kiev

Members of the Belarusian diaspora and Ukrainian activists take part in a rally in support of the Belarusian people who are protesting against election fraud in the presidential elections on August 16 in central Kiev

Supporters of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko wave communist party and national flags as they take part in a rally in Minsk today

Supporters of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko wave communist party and national flags as they take part in a rally in Minsk today

The president wiped his brow and insisted on a podium in a short-sleeved shirt. He insisted on the legitimacy of last Sunday's presidential election, in which he demanded victory over popular opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

& # 39; The elections were valid. Not more than 80 percent of the votes could be forged. We will not hand over the land, ”he said when Tikhanovskaya called for new elections after the official census gave Lukashenko 80 percent and her 10 percent.

He made reference to the history of the country and the successes of its rule.

The President of Elarus, Alexander Lukashenko, speaks to his supporters who are gathered in Minsk Independent Square

The President of Elarus, Alexander Lukashenko, speaks to his supporters who are gathered in Minsk's Independent Square

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko wipes his face as he addresses his supporters who have gathered in Minsk Independent Square in Belarus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko wipes his face as he addresses his supporters who have gathered in Minsk Independent Square in Belarus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko takes off his coat before delivering a speech to supporters gathered in Minsk Independent Square in Belarus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko takes off his coat before delivering a speech to supporters who have gathered in Minsk Independent Square in Belarus

"For the first time in our history we have built a sovereign independent country," he said, recalling the "difficult years" of the 1990s.

& # 39; What do you want to know? & # 39; he asked supporters.

He warned of a threat from neighboring NATO countries as well as the opposition movement, which called for new elections, when the crowd said "No!" Called.

"If we turn to them we'll get into a tailspin and never stabilize our plane," he said.

Lukashenko, who has alleged a foreign-backed conspiracy to overthrow him, said Belarus is under pressure and expressed concern about NATO's military exercises in neighboring Poland and Lithuania.

& # 39; NATO troops are at our gates. Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and our homeland Ukraine are ordering us to hold new elections, ”he said, adding that Belarus“ would die as a state ”if new elections were held.

"I never betrayed you and I never will," he said.

Thousands of people took part in a rally in support of the Belarusian opposition in Minsk on Sunday to demonstrate against the brutality of the police and the results of the presidential elections

Thousands of people took part in a rally in support of the Belarusian opposition in Minsk on Sunday to demonstrate against the brutality of the police and the results of the presidential elections

Belarus aerial veteran yells as he holds a poster that reads "We are against violence!" Wearing. during an opposition rally in the center of Minsk on August 16

Belarus aerial veteran yells as he holds up a poster that reads "We are against violence!" Wearing. during an opposition rally in the center of Minsk on August 16

The Belarusian airborne veteran shouts slogans during an opposition rally in central Minsk on August 16

The Belarusian airborne veteran shouts slogans during an opposition rally in central Minsk on August 16

"We will perish as a state, as a people, as a nation," he said when security guards stood nearby with his young son Nikolai.

Lukashenko called the rally when the opposition movement called for nationwide protests on the "March of Freedom" and tens of thousands in Minsk.

In a nearby street his opponents shouted "Go!"

Lukashenko had previously spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who told the Belarusian leader that Moscow was ready to provide assistance if necessary, in line with a collective military pact, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Airborne Belarusian veterans walk during an opposition rally in central Minsk on August 16

Airborne Belarusian veterans walk during an opposition rally in central Minsk on August 16

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