Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has made a show of defiance against the massive protests demanding his resignation, toting a rifle and wearing a bulletproof vest as he strode off a helicopter that landed at his residence while demonstrators massed nearby.
In the 15th day of the largest and most determined protests ever in Belarus, a crowd of about 200,000 rallied on Sunday against Lukashenko in a square in the capital of Minsk, defying warnings.
They then marched to another rally and approached the Independence Palace, the president’s working residence.
Video from the state news agency Belta showed a government helicopter landing on the grounds and Lukashenko getting off holding what appeared to be a Kalashnikov-type automatic rifle.
No ammunition clip was visible in the weapon, suggesting that Lukashenko aimed only to make a show of aggression.
The streets surrounding Independence Square turned red and white as demonstrators carried flags symbolising their opposition to Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994.