MINSK -- A Belarusian human rights group says security forces have detained more than 150 people during protests calling on strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka to step down.
The Vyasna rights group published the names of 151 people that it said had been detained in the capital Minsk and the cities of Barysau, Homel, Hrodna, Salihorsk, Smilovichi, Navapolatsk, Brest, and other locations.
Marches and rallies were reported in several districts of Minsk, accordng to RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, with many carrying the opposition’s red-and-white flag or banners. It was the 19th Sunday in a row on which opposition marches took place in the capital.
Smaller protests were also held in other towns and cities across Belarus.
Crisis In Belarus
Read our ongoing coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka ramps up pressure on NGOs and independent media as part of a brutal crackdown against protesters and the opposition. The West refuses to recognize him as the country's legitimate leader after an August 2020 election considered fraudulent.
Belarus has been roiled by nearly daily protests since early August when Lukashenka was declared victor of a presidential election that opposition leaders said was flawed.
Police have violently cracked down on the postelection protests, with more than 27,000 detentions, according to the United Nations. There have also been credible reports of torture and ill-treatment, and several people have died.
The marches continue to call for Lukashenka to resign, an end to the crackdown, the release of political prisoners, and new elections.
The United States, the European Union, and several other countries have refused to acknowledge Lukashenka as the winner of the vote, and imposed sanctions on Lukashenka and his allies, citing election rigging and the police crackdown.
Crowd numbers at protests in Minsk and elsewhere have dropped amid fatigue, repression, and the cold weather. Protests organizers have also switched tactics, calling for smaller gatherings to evade arrest and stretch the riot police.
Small marches and rallies were also reported on December 19 in Minsk and elsewhere, including the western city of Hrodna.