Belarus cops smash 'disappeared' person memorial march

Author : DPA

Minsk - Belarusian police used clubs to smash a peaceful demonstration memorializing government critics that have gone missing without a trace, the Belapan news agency reported Thursday. A reported 30 members of the Belarusian opposition reportedly participated in the march, which took place Wednesday evening in October Square, in the centre of the Belarusian capital Minsk.

The mostly student-age protestors carried placards recalling Belarusian vice speaker Viktor Gonchar, and businessman Anatoly Krasovsky, both government critics disappearing in 1999 after publicly criticizing Aleksander Lukashenko, Belarus' authoritarian president.

Police surrounded the demonstrators, ordered them to disperse, at which the marchers sat down on the pavement.

Law enforcers using clubs as well as their boots and fists arrested the marchers on charges of holding an illegal public gathering.

Uniformed and plain clothes police also attacked photographers on the scene, threatening destruction of equipment if shots of police beating demonstrators was not deleted from electronic camera memories, an eyewitness told the German Press Agency dpa.

Lukashenko during a Wednesday visit to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius denied allegations his country was a police state, telling reporters that Belarus was a democracy, "but its own kind of democracy."

International human rights advocacy groups have criticized Lukashenko for running the former Soviet republic in a dictatorial style with the assistance of a powerful secret police force.



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