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Additional law enforcement units deployed in downtown Minsk amid protests

According to the Vesna human rights center, 92 people have already been detained

MINSK, September 23. /TASS/. Additional units of riot police and interior troops are arriving in downtown Minsk, where a protest against the inauguration of President Alexander Lukashenko was dispersed late on Wednesday.

A TASS correspondent reported that convoys of trucks with personnel were seen moving along the Independence Avenue, from the Uruchye district. Six army trucks were spotted near the Minsk Hero City Obelisk on the Victors Avenue, where water cannons were used to disperse the crowd earlier on Wednesday.

Traffic police partially closed city streets for transport. Riot police units were deployed at important intersections in the city, including the Victory Square.

Nevertheless, protesters are still attempting to block traffic in various parts of the city. According to the Onliner portal, they even attempted to stop a vehicle transporting detainees near the Nemiga metro station.

The portal reported that protesters and law enforcement officers clashed near the Pushkinskaya metro station. Loud pops of unidentified origin were heard in the area. Tear gas was used against the crowd. People scattered, searching for shelter in nearby courtyards. They are being chased by riot police.

Meanwhile, Minsk Police Department spokesperson Natalya Ganusevich told TASS that the situation in downtown Minsk remains under control.

"Law enforcement officers fully control the situation and, at present, continue to curb unauthorized rallies," she said.

The spokeswoman did not say how many people were apprehended. "Detentions still continue," she said.

Commenting on social media posts about blasts and shots heard in the Belarusian capital, Ganusevich said no weapons, stun grenades and tear gas were used to disperse the rallies.  In her words, law enforcement officers "used only water cannons to disperse the crowd."

When asked to comment on a video of a man lying on the ground on Kalvariyskaya Street in Minsk, which was posted on social networks earlier on Wednesday evening, Ganusevich suggested that a road accident had probably taken place there.

"The protests in Minsk have started to subside," the spokeswoman added. "The situation remains relatively tense only in the Pushkinskaya [subway] station area.".

According to the Vesna human rights center, 92 people have already been detained.

Belarusian state media said on Wednesday noon that Alexander Lukashenko was sworn in as the president of Belarus during a previously unannounced ceremony.

The inauguration ceremony took place in the Independence Palace in Minsk earlier in the day. Lukashenko gave his oath in Belarusian language, with his hand on the Belarusian constitution, and signed an oath bill. After that, the Central Electoral Commission head Lidiya Yermoshina handed him the presidential certificate. The ceremony was attended by the republic’s top officials, lawmakers, heads of state bodies, regional authorities, Belarusian media, as well as figures of science, culture and sports.