Belarus riot police detained scores of demonstrators at a protest rally in the centre of the capital Minsk on Wednesday night, Reuters reports. The news agency reporter at the scene in the city centre said Belarusian special forces had rounded up dozens of people and put them into police buses. Rallies against Lukashenka’s rule are rare in the tightly-policed ex-Soviet republic, but protest calls on social networking sites have multiplied in recent weeks as a severe currency crisis has brought economic hardship.
According to the human rights group Viasana-96, 450 people were detained.
Police sealed off entry to the city’s October Square near the main presidential headquarters, as they did a week ago.
A beaten blogger, the photo is taken at a police bus
Two previous rallies have been banned and dispersed, and many activists were interrogated ahead of the third one held in Minsk, the capital, and other locations, said the respected human rights group Vyasna. Agents of KGB, as Belarus’ security agency is still known, detained hundreds of others during the protests, even though the youths did not shout protest slogans or display any banners.
When up to 1,000 people gathered on the main thoroughfare, Independence Prospect, squads of special forces moved in and hustled people into police buses.
Responding to an opposition Internet call, dozens of cars had joined the protest, driving slowly down the main thoroughfare and sounding their horns.
Otherwise demonstrators gathered peacefully, simply applauding in a coordinated act of protest.
The Belarus rights organisation Viasna-96 said that about 100 people had been detained in other parts of Belarus for staging protests.
Interior Ministry officials were not reachable for comment.
Many more photos here:
via Belarus Police Crack down on Minsk Protest, 450 People Detained (Photos) | Office for a democratic Belarus.