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PHOTOS: Belarus' Massive And Unprecedented Protests

Nearly two weeks after an Aug. 9 election kept Belarus' authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko in power amid accusations of vote-rigging, massive protests against Lukashenko continue and neither side is backing down.

"New fair, free and transparent elections must be held," Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Lukashenko's main challenger, told reporters in Lithuania on Friday. She fled there under pressure from Belarusian authorities last week. "People of Belarus have woken up and they do not want to live in fear and lies anymore."

On Monday, while visiting a factory where employees jeered him amid shouts of "Leave!" Lukashenko vowed to "never cave into pressure," saying, "There will be no new election until you kill me."

Thousands of factory workers, normally a key source of support for Lukashenko's 26-year regime, have gone on strike. The government, meanwhile, is squeezing the opposition: Authorities have detained a striking workers' leader and lodged criminal charges against opposition organizers. Riot police, some of whom briefly put down their shields earlier this week, continue to crack down amid allegations of torture.

More protests are expected this weekend. Whatever their ultimate impact may be, it's clear they mark an unprecedented challenge to Lukashenko's rule. Here are some highlights.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Opposition supporters protest against disputed presidential elections results at Independence Square in Minsk on Tuesday.
Sergei Gapon / AFP via Getty Images
Opposition supporters protest against disputed presidential elections results at Independence Square in Minsk on Tuesday.

Protesters gathered at Independence Square in Minsk on Thursday. They have come out in unprecedented numbers since the Aug. 9 election that returned Belarus' authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko to power amid accusations of vote-rigging.
Sergei Gapon / AFP via Getty Images
Protesters gathered at Independence Square in Minsk on Thursday. They have come out in unprecedented numbers since the Aug. 9 election that returned Belarus' authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko to power amid accusations of vote-rigging.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Lukashenko's main challenger, greets supporters in Brest, Belarus, on Aug. 2. She fled to Lithuania under pressure from authorities last week. "People of Belarus have woken up and they do not want to live in fear and lies anymore," she told reporters in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on Friday.
Sergei Grits / AP
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Lukashenko's main challenger, greets supporters in Brest, Belarus, on Aug. 2. She fled to Lithuania under pressure from authorities last week. "People of Belarus have woken up and they do not want to live in fear and lies anymore," she told reporters in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on Friday.

President Alexander Lukashenko met with workers on Monday at the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant, where he was heckled and met with shouts of "Leave!" "There will be no new election until you kill me," he said.
Nikolay Petrov/BELTA / AFP via Getty Images
President Alexander Lukashenko met with workers on Monday at the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant, where he was heckled and met with shouts of "Leave!" "There will be no new election until you kill me," he said.

Employees of the Minsk Energy Company protest on Aug. 17. Thousands of factory workers went on strike earlier this week but have since come under pressure and threats of job loss.
Sergei Gapon / AFP via Getty Images
Employees of the Minsk Energy Company protest on Aug. 17. Thousands of factory workers went on strike earlier this week but have since come under pressure and threats of job loss.

Women dressed in white protest against police violence in Minsk on Aug. 12.
Sergei Gapon / AFP via Getty Images
Women dressed in white protest against police violence in Minsk on Aug. 12.

Scenes from protests in Minsk on Aug. 9, after polls closed.
/ Sergei Gapon; Siarhei Leskiec; Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images;
Scenes from protests in Minsk on Aug. 9, after polls closed.

Riot police loom over a demonstrator during a protest after polls closed in Belarus' presidential election, in Minsk on Aug. 9. Human rights groups have alleged that Belarusian authorities used torture against peaceful protesters.
Sergei Gapon / AFP via Getty Images
Riot police loom over a demonstrator during a protest after polls closed in Belarus' presidential election, in Minsk on Aug. 9. Human rights groups have alleged that Belarusian authorities used torture against peaceful protesters.

Belarus opposition supporters lay flowers near the Pushkinskaya metro station where Alexander Taraikovsky, a 34-year-old protester, died on Aug. 10, during a protest in Minsk.
Sergei Gapon / AFP via Getty Images
Belarus opposition supporters lay flowers near the Pushkinskaya metro station where Alexander Taraikovsky, a 34-year-old protester, died on Aug. 10, during a protest in Minsk.

Protests in support of Belarus' opposition have taken place in other European countries. Left: People form a heart as they take part in a demonstration in support of Belarus protests on Aug. 16, in Prague, Czech Republic. Right: A protester participates in a "die-in" at a demonstration against the results of Belarus' presidential election on Aug. 15 in Berlin.
/ Michal Cizek/AFP via Getty Images; Adam Berry/Getty Images
Protests in support of Belarus' opposition have taken place in other European countries. Left: People form a heart as they take part in a demonstration in support of Belarus protests on Aug. 16, in Prague, Czech Republic. Right: A protester participates in a "die-in" at a demonstration against the results of Belarus' presidential election on Aug. 15 in Berlin.

A protest at Minsk's Independence Square on Aug. 18.
Sergei Gapon / AFP via Getty Images
A protest at Minsk's Independence Square on Aug. 18.