Authorities in Belarus detained scores of university students who took to the streets Tuesday to demand that authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko resign after an election the opposition has denounced as rigged. Hundreds of students gathered outside universities across the Belarusian capital, Minsk, and then marched across the city center to the Education Ministry, continuing a fourth straight week of mass post-election protests. The demonstrators chanted for Lukashenko to "Go away!" and held banners demanding freedom for political prisoners, the AP reports. Police cordons forced the demonstrators to change their route, and they detained dozens of them, according to the Viasna human rights center. Viasna’s Valiantsin Stefanovich said that some of the detainees were beaten by police.
"Students and universities in general are a highly explosive group," Stefanovich says. "The authorities are really scared of strikes starting in universities and are carrying out demonstrative intimidation acts." Viasna said at least 62 people were detained, including eight journalists. One protester, Tatyana Ivanova, says students from the Minsk State Linguistics University ran into a campus building to avoid being detained, but police tracked them down there. "It only fuels protest sentiments," she says. "The more they beat and detain people, the more people understand that Lukashenko has lost." Lukashenko, who has run the ex-Soviet nation of 9.5 million with an iron fist for 26 years, has dismissed protesters as Western puppets.
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