Lukashenko to meet Putin as Belarus unrest continues

Minsk, Sep 14 (IANS) Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko will on Monday fly to Russia for a first face-to-face meeting with his counterpart Vladimir Putin amid the ongoing tensions in the Eastern European country.

The talks will take place in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi as a joint military exercise begins near the western Belarusian city of Brest, the BBC reported.

This is the first meeting between the two leaders following the eruption of mass protests against the August 9 election results which gave Lukasheno, who has been in power since 26 years, another six years at the helm.

Putin recognises Lukashenko as the legitimate Belarusian leader and says he has forces ready to intervene if the protests get out of control.

According to the BBC report, there is speculation he wants closer ties in exchange for continued support.

Following a fifth consecutive weekend of protests, tens of thousands of people again took to the streets of the Belarusian capital Minsk and other cities on Sunday demanding Lukashenko's resignation.

Police said that they detained about 400 people.

Sunday has become the key day for street demonstrations Lukashenko won more than 80 per cent of the votes and opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya garnered only 10 per cent.

Mass unrest since then has seen at least four people killed and hundreds injured.

A number of opposition figures have fled the country, including Tikhanovskaya, Olga Kovalkova and Veronika Tsepkalo.

Meanwhile, differing accounts have been reported over the whereabouts of another opposition figure, Maria Kolesnikova.



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