Belarusian security forces detain at least 20 people during protests in Minsk

Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko 66 who has been in power for 26 years has vowed that he will not give up power to the

Putin, Lukashenko to talk 'integration' amid Belarus protests

Belarus has been engulfed in mass protests since August 9, when the state authorities declared a landslide victory for Lukashenko in a hotly contested presidential election.

Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years, has vowed that he will not give up power to the opposition, which claims its candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was the rightful victor of the August 9 polls. Key opposition figures have since either been jailed or fled the country.

The opposition that united behind Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who's now in exile in Lithuania, says she won the election and wants Lukashenko to begin talks on handing over power.

They came to a halt and chanted "fascists" as hundreds of riot police with shields blocked off the road.

Saturday's protests were a precursor to a massive women's rally expected on Sunday to protest police violence and allegations of electoral fraud.

The spokeswoman for the interior ministry, Olga Chemodanova, told AFP that "women had been detained" but could not say how many or provide other details.

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Lukashenko will visit Russian Federation for talks with Putin on Monday as both countries start joint military drills.

Moscow, a neighbour and traditional ally, has stepped up support, offering to potentially restructure Belarusian debt, and providing banking liquidity.

Putin said last month he'd agreed with Lukashenko to send Russian police to help quell the unrest if necessary, while adding he saw no need yet.

About 10,000 women marched noisily through the Belarusian capital on Saturday, beating pots and pans and shouting for the resignation of the country's authoritarian president in the 35th consecutive day of large anti-government protests.

"We have to show with this march that he (Lukashenko) doesn't control the country, that he is not in a position to speak on behalf of Belarusians", said Gennady, 35, a logistics worker who declined to give his surname.

Moscow offered Lukashenko support by sending it would send paratroopers to Belarus for "Slavic Brotherhood" joint drills.

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Analysts say Mr Putin may seek to exploit Mr Lukashenko's political vulnerability to wring concessions from him, but any agreements compromising Belarus's sovereignty and independence are likely to enrage Belarusian protesters further.

Washington's lead was soon followed by its allies in the region, with more than 50 countries ultimately joining the USA in recognizing Guaido as Venezuela's "acting president".

Unidentified people attempted on Wednesday to enter Ms Alexievich's apartment in Minsk, and diplomats from several European Union nations gathered there to prevent her detention and again on Thursday evening.

Mr Lukashenko has refused to step down and has turned to Russian Federation for support to remain in power.

He additionally called on authorities "to refrain from the use of force" against peaceful protesters.

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