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Belarus' leader helicopters over Minsk with a rifle as protesters below demand his resignation

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Belarus' leader helicopters over Minsk with a rifle as protesters below demand his resignation
Minsk, Belarus (CNN)Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko responded to huge anti-government protests and calls for his resignation by posting video of himself flying over Minsk in riot gear, with a rifle hanging from his shoulder.

As mass demonstrations over a contested presidential election enter a third week in Belarus, tens of thousands of people gathered in the capital and across the country at the weekend to demanding change and a new presidential poll.
While Sunday's protest was winding down in Minsk, Lukashenko's press service recorded and posted a series of bizarre videos in which the strongman leader inspected the city from a helicopter, wearing an all-black uniform and a bulletproof vest.
"They ran away like rats," Lukashenko said as the aircraft approached one of his Minsk residencies, the Palace of Independence.

President Alexander Lukashenko brandishing a rifle near the Palace of Independence in Minsk, Sunday, as seen in video from state TV.

Lukashenko wearing body armor in his helicopter as he flies over Minsk on Sunday, in a grab taken from a state media broadcast.
In another video, he is seen stepping out of a helicopter at the palace with a Kalashnikov-style rifle in his hands. Accompanied by armed soldiers and his 15-year-old son Kolya, also armed and wearing a military uniform, the group appears to thank riot police who formed a barricade on the avenue leading to the residence during the protests.
Independent observers criticized the country's August 9 poll for being neither free nor fair. And much of the international community has expressed solidarity with the protesters, piling pressure on Lukashenko -- who has ruled Belarus for 26 years -- to give in to calls for another vote.
In the meantime, Lukashenko has blamed the West for steering the protests and voiced a series of unfounded claims about the West stepping up its military efforts near Belarus borders.

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