Opposition Activists Push Past Police Lines in Belarus

By VOA News

Opposition activists in Belarus have pushed through police lines in the capital's main square to hold a demonstration against last Sunday's presidential election.

Reports from Minsk's October Square describe protesters chanting "Long Live Belarus" as they pushed past a cordon of black-clad security officers holding batons. Authorities had blocked entrances to the square in an apparent move to prevent the pro-democracy rally.

Opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich called the rally to protest the election outcome. He lost in a landslide to hardline President Alexander Lukashenko. Western countries condemned the vote as undemocratic but Russia called it free and transparent.

Milinkevich and his supporters say they want a new and fair vote.

Early Friday, Belarus riot police detained about 300 opposition activists who had been camped out in October Square since polls closed late Sunday.

The United States and European Union reacted by imposing new sanctions against Mr. Lukashenko's government. He has ruled Belarus since 1994.