PHOTOS: Belarus' Massive And Unprecedented Protests
Nearly two weeks after an election kept President Alexander Lukashenko in power amid accusations of vote-rigging, massive protests against Lukashenko continue and neither side is backing down.
"New fair, free and transparent elections must be held," Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Lukashenko's main challenger, told reporters in Lithuania on Friday. She fled there under pressure from Belarusian authorities last week. "People of Belarus have woken up and they do not want to live in fear and lies anymore."
On Monday, while visiting a factory where employees jeered him amid shouts of "Leave!" Lukashenko vowed to "never cave into pressure," saying, "There will be no new election until you kill me."
Thousands of factory workers, normally a key source of support for Lukashenko's 26-year regime, have gone on strike. The government, meanwhile, is squeezing the opposition: Authorities have detained a striking workers' leader and lodged criminal charges against opposition organizers. Riot police, some of whom briefly put down their shields earlier this week, continue to crack down amid allegations of torture.
More protests are expected this weekend. Whatever their ultimate impact may be, it's clear they mark an unprecedented challenge to Lukashenko's rule. Here are some highlights.
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