Belarus Police Break Up Opposition Protest, Arrest 20


MINSK-Police in Belarus broke up an unsanctioned opposition rally and arrested about 20 people in the capital Minsk on Wednesday, a Reuters witness said.

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko was described by a former U.S. administration as Europe's last dictator, but he has granted concessions to the opposition in recent years in a bid to build better ties with the European Union.

About 40 activists gathered on the city's main square to mark the anniversary of the 1999 disappearance of opposition activist Viktor Gonchar, some holding placards reading: "We Remember."

After 10 minutes riot police began to break up the protest, dragging activists into nearby vans and blocking journalists trying to cover the rally.

More than 20 people protesting against joint military exercises with Russia were detained at a rally in Minsk last week, after several months during which activists say police had become less aggressive.

In a bid to improve ties with the EU, Lukashenko has freed all detainees viewed in the West as political prisoners and held an election deemed an improvement over previous contests.



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