Minsk   -  About 300 people were detained in the Belarusian capital Minsk at a weekend opposition rally against the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko, the interior ministry said Monday. 

Tens of thousands of protesters marched from central Minsk to a Soviet-era execution site on Sunday in the latest protest against 66-year-old Lukashenko’s claim to victory in an August presidential vote. 

“Some 300 people were detained in Minsk and the Minsk region for breaking laws on mass gatherings,” the Belarusian interior ministry said on its Telegram channel. It said law enforcement officers used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.

For nearly three months, protesters have been taking to the streets on Sundays to voice their opposition to the results of the election which government critics say were rigged.  The opposition is demanding that Lukashenko, who has been in power for over two decades, step down and hand power to opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Tikhanovskaya, who is now in exile in Lithuania, said she was the real winner of the election and has won the backing of Western leaders who also have refused to recognise the result.

 Western countries have also imposed sanctions on allies of Lukashenko over vote-rigging and police violence.

Last Monday, Tikhanovskaya urged supporters to launch a national strike, but its effects on the country’s economy appear to be limited.

The political situation in ex-Soviet Belarus is now at an impasse, with Moscow-backed Lukashenko refusing to resign and the opposition unable to force his ouster.

Last week, Lukashenko appointed a new interior minister and police chief in Minsk and warned protesters that security services would “take no prisoners”.

 The authorities last month threatened to use live ammunition to disperse the protesters. 

 Belarus last week closed its land borders with EU members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia as well as Ukraine, citing the coronavirus pandemic.

From Sunday, the authorities also banned foreigners from entering the country via land border crossings.