The Belarus government unleashed a harsh crackdown against dissent and protests that erupted after President Alexander Lukashenko claimed a sixth term in office in a disputed presidential election last August.
Belarus has been rocked by waves of protests since an August 9 presidential election that strongman Lukashenko says he won but the opposition, backed by Western countries, says was stolen.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators organised at least 100 separate gatherings in the capital Minsk.
"I will not work as president with you under the new constitution," President Alexander Lukashenko says without specifying when that day would come.
More than 700 people taken into pre-trial detention for "breaching the laws on mass gatherings," Interior Ministry says.
Belarusian students, factory workers and pensioners answered a call by exiled opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovskaya to launch a nationwide strike this week — a fresh move to force Lukashenko to hold new elections after months of mass protests.
Belarus has been gripped by unprecedented youth and women-led protests since President Lukashenko claimed victory in an August election.
Belarus has been rocked by strikes and weekly street protests since authorities announced that President Lukashenko, who has ruled in authoritarian fashion since 1994, had secured re-election on August 9 with 80 percent of votes.
Foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg agreed in principle to sanctions proposals for Russia over poisoning of opposition leader Alexey Navalny as well as against Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko for alleged rigging in August elections.
Protesters have taken to the streets every week since an August vote to demand that President Lukashenko step down and allow for a new election to be held.
President Alexander Lukashenko holds a rare meeting with detained opposition leaders, state-run Belta news agency reports.
Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya faces a charge in Belarus over making public calls to harm the country's security.
Subscribe to our Youtube channel for all latest in-depth, on the ground reporting from around the world.
Copyright © 2021 TRT World.