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Belarus: Lukashenko brandishes rifle as thousands of protesters demand his resignation

The authoritarian president of Belarus made a dramatic show of defiance on Sunday against the massive protests demanding his resignation, toting a rifle and wearing a bulletproof vest as he strode off a helicopter that landed at his residence while demonstrators massed nearby.

An estimated 200,000 pro-democracy protesters returned to the streets of Minsk on Sunday to demand the resignation of Alexander Lukashenko in the latest wave of demonstrations against his disputed re-election two weeks ago.

Draped in red and white flags, opposition supporters gathered in Independence Square, as riot police are on standby on the autocratic leader's orders.

Fabrice Pothier, a former NATO policy chief, told Euronews on Monday that Lukashenko was "using the old Moscow playbook" of blaming others for what he is doing.

Officials issued a warning to Belarusians against participating in "illegal demonstrations".

Video from the state news agency Belta showed a government helicopter landing on the grounds of the presidential palace and Lukashenko getting off holding what appeared to be a Kalashnikov-type automatic rifle. No ammunition clip was visible in the weapon, suggesting that Lukashenko, who cultivates an aura of machismo, aimed only to make a show of aggression.

A Euronews journalist said many protesters have brought balloons and the loud bang from them popping has everyone on edge as recent protests have been met with a crackdown, which saw at least four people killed.

Protesters held a moment of silence for the victims. But authorities used loudspeakers during that moment to announce: "The demonstration is illegal. Go home."

 Riot police are on standby at the protests in Minsk.Euronews

Opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova told protesters to avoid police.

"We are peaceful. That is why we are going to the other side (away from police), " she told Euronews.

Asked if the demonstrations would amount to change in Belarus, she answered that "there already has been."

 Opposition leader Maria Kolesnikova told Euronews there has already been change in Belarus.Euronews

Read More Here: Euronews

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