Hundreds of demonstrators in Belarus spent a second night protesting against the election victory of President Alexander Lukashenko.

The protestors, who gathered in the centre of the capital Minsk, were joined by opposition politicians.

A number of protestors were detained as they were leaving the demonstration. Four aides of opposition candidate Alexander Milinkevich were also arrested.

Mr Milinkevich has declared the election invalid and has expressed his hope to lead a peaceful protest movement modelled on the 2004 'orange revolution' in neighbouring Ukraine.

Mr Lukashenko last week threatened to 'break the neck' of any protest, while he said demonstrators could face terrorism charges, execution or life imprisonment.

Yesterday the US and the European Union backed calls for a re-run of the election.

EU Foreign Ministers have discussed the situation in Brussels and there are indications that sanctions could be imposed against the Belarus authorities.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, said the EU had no wish to target the Belarusian population.

Mr Ahern said the EU would continue to offer strong support for civil society and for democratisation in Belarus.