Belarus police break up pro-Polish protest

Source: Reuters

MINSK, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Belarussian police on Tuesday dispersed an opposition rally and detained about 20 protesters expressing solidarity with dozens of ethnic Polish activists detained the day before.

The demonstration in central Minsk had only just started when riot police in combat gear moved in to grab protesters as a female demonstrator tried to unfurl a poster, a Reuters photographer reported from the scene.

Several opposition protesters had been detained before the rally which was banned by the authorities.

Belarus's European Union neighbour Poland on Monday condemned the detention of about 40 ethnic Polish activists, days after Poland recalled its envoy in protest at an earlier crackdown. [ID:nLDE61E1PF]

Tensions have periodically erupted between Minsk and Warsaw over Belarus's treatment of its large Polish minority, which numbers some 400,000 people in a country of 10 million.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski on Monday urged Belarus "to return from this bad path" and called on the EU to put pressure on Belarus.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled his ex-Soviet nation with an iron hand since 1994, has been wooing the EU as ties with close ally Russia soured over energy prices and other issues.

(Reporting by Vasily Fedosenko; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)


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