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Scores arrested in protest against Belarus' president

Hundreds of women calling for the authoritarian president to step down protested in Belarus’ capital on Saturday, continuing the large demonstrations that have rocked the country since early August.

Police blocked off the center of Minsk and arrested more than 60 demonstrators, according to the Viasna human rights organization. Some of those arrested were chased down by police in building courtyards where they were trying to take refuge, Viasna said.

Protests, by far the largest and most persistent in Belarus since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, began Aug. 9 after an election that officials said gave President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term in office.

A woman argues with a police officer during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have been protesting daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election. (AP PhotoTUT.by)

Opponents and some poll workers say the results, in which Lukashenko was tallied with 80% support, were manipulated.

Despite wide-scale detentions of demonstrators and the arrest of many prominent opposition figures, the protests haven't shown signs of abating. Lukashenko further angered opponents this week by taking the oath of office for a new term in an unexpected ceremony.

Protesters on Saturday carried placards denouncing him as “the secret president.”

Police officers detain a photojournalist during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have been protesting daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election. (AP PhotoTUT.by)

Lukashenko is to give a video address to the U.N. General Assembly later Saturday. His statements are likely to fuel protests on Sunday, which have typically been the largest of the week, attracting crowds estimated at as many as 200,000.

Lukashenko, a former collective farm manager, has been in office since 1994. During that time he has repressed opposition and independent news media and kept most of the country's economy under Soviet-style state control.

Police officer walk to detain demonstrators during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have been protesting daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election. (AP PhotoTUT.by)

A police officer tries to take away an old Belarusian national flag from Nina Bahinskaya's hands during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have been protesting daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election. (AP PhotoTUT.by)

Police officer detain a woman with an old Belarusian national flag during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have been protesting daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election. (AP PhotoTUT.by)

Belarusian women attend an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have been protesting daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election. (AP PhotoTUT.by)

Police detain a protester during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have been protesting daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election. (AP PhotoTUT.by)

A woman wearing a face mask to protect agains coronavirus and a glasses with stickers in an old Belarusian national flag colors attends an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have been protesting daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election. (AP PhotoTUT.by)

Police detain protesters during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have been protesting daily since the Aug. 9 presidential election. (AP PhotoTUT.by)