Belarus authorities free detainees as protests grow

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Authorities in Belarus have freed at least 2,000 people who were detained amid demonstrations after a disputed presidential election. The releases are an attempt to assuage public anger over brutal police beatings of largely peaceful protesters and avoid Western sanctions. Crowds of demonstrators have filled the streets ever since Sunday’s election in which authorities reported that authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko extending his 26-year rule by winning 80% of the vote. As thousands continued rallying across Belarus, his main challenger, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya posted a video disputing the election result and demanding the government launch a dialogue with protesters. She has taken refuge in neighboring Lithuania.