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  • D. Brit

Mass Protests in Belarus Continue During Presidential Rally

What Happened:

  • Tens of thousands of opponents of Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko gathered in Minsk Sunday to protest against last week's disputed presidential election.

  • The "March for Freedom" in the capital comes amid growing anger over alleged poll-rigging in the election and police use of excessive force at last week's protests. Thousands of protesters were detained or arrested and some were severely beaten at last week's protests.

  • At the same time as the "March of Freedom" protest, President Lukashenko held a much smaller rally celebrating his victory, in which he called his opponents "rats." He also called on supporters to help defend the country and its independence.

  • President Lukashenko also expressed concern over NATO military exercises taking place in the neighboring countries of Poland and Lithuania and claimed there was a "build-up of [NATO] military power on the western borders of the country." Russian President Putin has already offered assistance against external military threats to Belarus.

  • A spokesman for NATO said there is no such buildup in the region and added that "NATO's multinational presence in the eastern part of the Alliance is not a threat to any country. It is strictly defensive, proportionate, and designed to prevent conflict and preserve peace."

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