More than 100,000 march in Belarus

More than 100,000 anti-government protesters have staged marches in Belarus.
More than 100,000 anti-government protesters have staged marches in Belarus.

More than 100,000 people have taken to the streets across Belarus for renewed protests against disputed President Alexander Lukashenko, in spite of a violent crackdown by the army and police.

Demonstrations were staged on Sunday with the goal of symbolically appointing exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya as president at an "inauguration of the people".

"Sveta is our president," chanted those marching in the capital Minsk, while others shouted "Long live Belarus!" and "Eto nash gorod!" (This is our city).

The demonstrations were also held in response to Lukashenko's secretive inauguration on Wednesday, which spurred renewed support for daily protests, along with a more brutal response from state officials.

Uniformed men in balaclavas were seen attacking demonstrators in the cities of Gomel and Grodno on Sunday's protests, the 50th straight day of unrest.

Around 200 arrests were made nationwide in the early evening, the Interior Ministry said, with the number steadily rising.

To prevent people joining the ever-changing protest routes, authorities once again switched off the mobile internet and closed metro stations.

Soldiers took up positions at the Palace of the Republic, while prisoner vans and hundreds of militiamen were waiting in the side streets.

The presidential palace was secured like a fortress because authorities feared protesters might storm Lukashenko's headquarters.

Opposition activists had called for a renewed display of anti-government feeling following Lukashenko's disputed inauguration.

In Gomel, officials said they warned protesters with flares and water cannon.

Tikhanovskaya praised the courage of protesters in spite of the threat of arrest.

"We have gathered to stop this regime - and we will do so by peaceful means," she said in a video message.

"We are millions. And therefore we will win."

She had also previously stressed the special role of women who have been organising their own protests against Lukashenko on Saturdays.

Sunday's protests came the day after masked uniformed men arrested dozens of women at a march in Minsk, according to the Viasna human rights group.

Lukashenko claims he received 80 per cent of the vote in the election but his critics and many international observers say voting was rigged to maintain his grip on power.

The European Union last week renewed its claim the August 9 election was "neither free nor fair" and that it would not recognise Lukashenko as president.

Lukashenko, 66, has led Belarus, a former Soviet republic between Russia and EU state Poland, for more than a quarter of a century.

Australian Associated Press