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Merkel demands release of detained demonstrators in Belarus: spokesman

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a joint video press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron (not pictured) at the end of the European summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium July 21, 2020. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel demands the unconditional and immediate release of demonstrators detained in Belarus during nationwide street protests after the contested re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko, her spokesman said on Friday.

Belarusian authorities released detained demonstrators on Friday after issuing a rare public apology in an effort to quell the protests that pose the biggest challenge yet to strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko’s 26-year rule.

Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Maria Sheahan