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Belarus: 300 more arrests as opposition continues small-protest strategy

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By Euronews with AP
A protester waves an old Belarusian national flag, during an opposition rally against the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020.
A protester waves an old Belarusian national flag, during an opposition rally against the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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More than 300 people were detained in the Belarus' capital on Sunday, as people took part in small rallies to demand the country's authoritarian leader leave office.

President Alexander Lukashenko won a sixth term in office in a disputed August 9 election widely seen as rigged.

Thousands of people Sunday took part in dozens of small protests scattered all over the capital, Minsk, as part of a new tactic the opposition is employing.

The smaller rallies make it harder for the security forces to target the protesters.

"We believe! We can! We will win!" some demonstrators chanted. Several people wore Santa Claus costumes and masks depicting Lukashenko.

"Give Belarusians a gift: go away," a banner they carried read.

Police in Minsk said they detained more than 300 people. The Viasna human rights group released the names of 215 people detained in Minsk and other cities, where rallies also took place.

This is the 18th consecutive weekend of protests in the former Soviet republic.

Mass protests broke out after the disputed presidential election that handed Lukashenko a landslide victory over his popular opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

She and her supporters have refused to recognise the result, saying the vote was riddled with fraud.

The protests have been met with a violent crack down from security forces who have used grenades and tear gas to disperse protests. Thousands of protesters have been detained.

At least four journalists have been detained in Minsk and the western city of Grodno, according the Belarusian Association of Journalists. Nina Bahinskaya, a 73-year-old protester famous for her resilience, was also among those detained, according to Viasna.

The continued crackdown on the protests elicited international outrage.

Earlier this year, the European Union imposed sanctions on Lukashenko and several dozen officials over their role in the security crackdown launched after the contested election.