Belarusian Police Detain Dozens At Valentine's Day Rally

MINSK -- Belarusian police dispersed a St. Valentine's Day gathering in Minsk and detained some 30 young political activists, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

The activists, mainly members of the Youth Front movement, were released by police after about two hours on February 14 and were not charged.

Maryna Manchalouskaya told RFE/RL that she was surprised when police forced her into a bus and took her to the police station.

She said she was holding a sign at the gathering on Liberty Square that read: "I Love Belarus. I Do Not Understand Why I Cannot."

Youth Front deputy head Mikola Dzemidzenka told RFE/RL that police beat the activists, who were forced to lie on the floor of the bus while being driven to the police station.

Dzemidzenka said the police were "very rude" and did not let the activists speak to each other. He added that they used vulgar words while addressing the activists.

Every year, many independent youth organizations in Minsk hold a public gathering on St. Valentine's Day that is usually forcibly dispersed by the police.


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