Tens of thousands march for seventh straight weekend to demand veteran Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko quit.

Opposition supporters carry the former white-red-white flag of Belarus as they march during a rally to protest the country's presidential inauguration in Minsk on September 27, 2020.
Opposition supporters carry the former white-red-white flag of Belarus as they march during a rally to protest the country's presidential inauguration in Minsk on September 27, 2020. (Reuters)

Masked police have dragged people into vans and fired stun grenades and tear gas to disperse crowds as tens of thousands marched for a seventh straight weekend to demand veteran Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko quit.

Protesters on Sunday chanted "impostor" and "Sveta is our president" as they marched through Minsk and other cities decked out in red-and-white opposition colours.

Police detained "around 200" people during rallies, an Interior Ministry spokesperson Olga Chemodanova told AFP news agency.

Chemodanova denied police used stun grenades but confirmed that members of law enforcement used "riot control" gear.

READ MORE: Belarus detains opposition leader's lawyer amid protests

Condemnation to secret inauguration

Some dubbed the protest a "people's inauguration" of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Lukashenko's main opponent who fled into exile after the August 9 election that Lukashenko's opponents say was blatantly rigged to hand Lukashenko a sixth term.

Lukashenko denies electoral fraud and was inaugurated on Wednesday in a ceremony held without any prior announcement, sparking more protests and condemnation from the European Union, the United States and Britain.

The European Union said on Thursday it does not recognise Lukashenko as president of Belarus because of large-scale protests by Belarusians who question the results of last month’s presidential election that Lukashenko claims he overwhelmingly won. 

Opposition members and some poll workers in Belarus say the vote was rigged.

Ahead of a trip on Monday to Lithuania and Latvia, French President Emmaneul Macron was quoted in Sunday's Journal du Dimanche newspaper as saying "it’s clear that Lukashenko must go."

Russia said the EU's decision not to recognise Lukashenko as the legitimate president contradicted international law and amounted to indirect meddling in the country.

READ MORE: EU fails to unblock sanctions against Belarus

Police action 

On Sunday, riot police pulled people out of crowds and hauled them away into vans, a Reuters witness said. 

Several metro stations were shut and the mobile internet disrupted. Some protesters wore fake crowns to mock Lukashenko's inauguration.

"We came to celebrate the people's inauguration of the people's president," said Alexander, a 30-year-old logistics worker, while protesting in Minsk. "First he falsified the elections, and then he falsified the inauguration."

Local media footage showed masked security forces spraying a substance from a can into the faces of people in Gomel, while the protesters retreated shouting "fascists."

In a speech on Saturday to the virtual UN General Assembly, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei warned Western nations against interfering or imposing sanctions over the country’s election and the government's crackdown on protesters.

READ MORE: Belarus police detain hundreds as weekly protests continue in Minsk

Source: TRTWorld and agencies