Belarus police detain dozens at women's rallies: rights group

Minsk (AFP) –


More than 90 people were detained at opposition rallies in Belarus on Saturday as women demonstrators took to the streets to protest against strongman Alexander Lukashenko's regime.

Hundreds of people took part in protest rallies in Minsk, with some women carrying portraits of Lukashenko's rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and others chanting "Sveta the president", referring to the 38-year-old opposition figure.

Riot police wearing black balaclavas were deployed on the streets of Minsk and detained peaceful women.

The demonstrations were the latest in a series of women's protests calling for the strongman leader to leave following his disputed victory in elections last month.

At least 95 people -- mostly women -- were detained in the capital Minsk and other cities including the southwestern city of Brest, said rights group Viasna.

A number of journalists covering the rallies were among those detained.

Several street musicians who performed a popular Soviet-era song that has become a protest anthem were also arrested, Viasna said.

The latest protests took place after Lukashenko had been sworn into a sixth term in office during a secret ceremony on Wednesday.

He claimed to have won 80 percent of the vote in August 9 polls despite huge support for his opposition rival Tikhanovskaya.

A large-scale march is expected to take place in Minsk on Sunday.

The top Belarusian opposition Telegram channel, Nexta Live, which has more than 2 million subscribers, urged people to take to the streets Sunday for a symbolic "people's inauguration of the real president" Tikhanovskaya.