A rally in support of the embattled Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko was dwarfed by an opposition protest more than 100,000 strong.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Sunday accused NATO of deploying tanks and planes to Belarus’ western border, a claim the military alliance rejected. Speaking at a rally of his supporters in central Minsk, the 65-year-old leader dismissed opposition calls for a new election and urged Belarusians to defend their country. Lukashenko, who has led the former Soviet state for 26 years, denies election fraud. He says foreign interference is to blame for the unrest.
Opposition presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who fled to neighboring Lithuania on Tuesday, wants an election recount and is forming a national council to facilitate a power transfer. Hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters were holding a nationwide "March for Freedom" to renew pressure on Lukashenko to step down. In Minsk, where The Associated Press estimated more than 100,000 people turned out, columns of protesters raised victory signs and held flowers and balloons. Many wore white, the color that has come to symbolize the opposition movement.
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