Moscow  — Russian President Vladimir Putin granted  a $1.5bn loan on Belarus on Monday in a gesture of support for its leader Alexander Lukashenko, who flew to Russia to  entreat his patron for help after five weeks of mass protests demanding his resignation.

A day after more than 100,000 protesters took to the streets of Minsk, Lukashenko met Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in urgent need of help to maintain his 26-year grip on power...

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