Protesters gathered outside a factory and the headquarters of state television in Minsk on Monday following a call from Belarus’s opposition for a general strike over a disputed election.
AFP journalists saw protesters waving the opposition’s red-and-white flag at the television channel and the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant (MZKT), where President Alexander Lukashenko was visiting.
Workers at the Minsk Tractor Works (MTZ) also told AFP that several thousand staff had walked off the job.
Footage posted by the tut.by news website showed crowds of workers from other plants marching to the MZKT plant to join the protest.
Protesters at the plant chanted “Leave!” and “We will not forget, we will not forgive.”
Senior opposition figure Maria Kolesnikova joined the crowd and urged them to head next to the state television offices.
“We are going to (state) television to support our colleagues in the resistance,” she said.
Lukashenko met with workers at the plant and downplayed the protests, saying that in general factories were working.
“If anyone does not want to work and wants to walk out… please the doors are open,” state news agency Belta quoted him as saying.
He again rejected calls to step down, saying: “You will never expect me to do something under pressure.”