This Sunday marks the third week of protests in Belarus where citizens contest what they believe was a rigged presidential election where long-time leader Alexander Lukashenko, who is celebrating his 60 birthday today, claimed a landslide win.
After two Sundays in which the opposition had called huge rallies in Minsk and been left largely unmolested by riot police, this week the president had promised protests would be met with a tough response, according to the Guardian.
Police have already detained over 100 protesters at the unauthorized rally, Deutsche Welle reports citing local media and eyewitnesses.
Police have blocked access to the central Independence Square to keep crowds away from the government buildings, while witness videos of armored infantry vehicles driving toward the city center were posted on a number of Telegram channels.
Last Sunday, Lukashenko's propaganda team released footage of him flying a helicopter over Minsk center, carrying an assault rifle, along with his 15-year-old son in full tactical gear.
Belarus protests: background, reactions
Presidential elections were held in Belarus on August 9.
The Central Election Commission said over 80% of voters supported incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko, while his main rival, a political novice Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, gained just over 10%.
Thousands of Belarusians who believe the vote count was rigged took to the streets to protest election results. Security officials violently slammed on protesters, detaining thousands, beating and injuring many in captivity.
On August 19, leaders of EU member states agreed to impose sanctions on Belarus in response to falsified vote count and the use of violence against protesters. They have not recognized the presidential election results.
Ukraine has joined the EU declaration on Belarus.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Ukraine in no way intends to interfere in Belarus' internal affairs, while remaining ready to assist in settlement efforts.