10 Belarusian opposition activists detained

The Associated Press

MINSK, Belarus: Belarusian authorities detained 10 opposition activists Wednesday before a rally marking a banned holiday, a human rights group said.

Arrests and searches took place throughout the authoritarian ex-Soviet state, the Vesna group said.

"Intimidation, threats and repression remain the main methods in the arsenal of Belarusian authorities," said Valentin Stefanovich, the group's director.

Truckloads of police were deployed to central Minsk, where the opposition plans to hold the protest later Wednesday.

Authorities sanctioned a demonstration in a park away from the center, but opposition groups said they would march down a central street to the presidential administration building.

President Alexander Lukashenko's government has vowed to prevent rallies marking what the opposition calls "Freedom Day." March 25 is the anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarusian state.

Lukashenko, who has ruled the nation of 10 million since 1994, has been dubbed "Europe's last dictator" by the U.S. and some European countries for his crackdown on critics and independent media.



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