NATO Secretary-General warns Putin not to interfere with Belarus’ affairs

People hold hands as they participate in a human chain from Vilnius to the Belarusian border

People hold hands as they participate in a human chain from Vilnius to the Belarusian borderAP

Russian Federation stepped in to offer its support to Lukashenko with Putin saying on Thursday the Kremlin had set up a "reserve police force" to assist Lukashenko, although it would not be deployed unless unrest there got out of control, Interfax news agency reported.

In an interview with state television in Moscow on Thursday, Putin warned protesters in Belarus not to push too hard to topple President Aleksandr Lukashenko, otherwise Russian Federation would send in a special reserve force of security officers to bring back order, New York Times reported.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday that Minsk and Moscow will use a joint group of armed forces if someone starts "twitching" on the western border of the Union State of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.

Mass demonstrations opposing Mr Lukashenko have taken place in Minsk and other cities and workers in many key industries, including Belarus's potash fertiliser sector that is a major source of foreign revenue, have gone on strike demanding his departure.

"That was absolutely untrue", Putin said.

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"They want to topple this government and replace it with another one that would ask a foreign country to send troops in support", he said.

Macron added that it should be up to Putin, who has spoken repeatedly to the Belarusian leader in the last days, to sway Lukashenko.

The EU's diplomatic chief has also urged Russian Federation not to intervene in Belarus, after President Vladimir Putin vowed military support for the country's embattled leader.

Lukashenko, who has ruled the nation of 9.5 million with an iron fist since 1994, has dismissed the protesters as Western puppets and refuses to engage in dialogue with the opposition. They also credited Tikhanovskaya's opposition party as coming in second with 10.12 percent of the vote.

Belarus women are pushed by Police during a peaceful protest rally against the results of the presidential elections, in Minsk.

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Ukraine has frozen contacts with Belarus, and joined the European Union in condemning the legitimacy of the election.

Hours after Putin's interview, hundreds of riot police dispersed a protest on the Belarusian capital's main square in a move that underlined Lukashenko's determination to squelch protests.

In the first four days of post-election protests, police brutally cracked down on peaceful demonstrators with rubber bullets, stun grenades and beatings.

"They called me from the foreign ministry and said that by resolution of the government's information security commission, my accreditation has been rescinded", the BBC's Tatiana Melnichuk told local media.

Putin defended the Belarusian authorities' response to protests, saying that police in Belarus have shown "restraint".

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Red and white became the colors of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the opposition candidate who united the three campaigns of her jailed husband Sergei Tikhanovsky, Babariko and Viktor Tsepkalo, a former ambassador to the US who had to flee the country.

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