Belarus police detain 20 in anti-Russia rally

Belarus police break-up protest against joint military exercises with Russia.

Police in Belarus have broken up a rally against joint military exercises with Russia, as Minsk seeks to balance close Kremlin ties with better Western relations.

Dozens of protesters marched to the capital's central square brandishing slogans which said, 'Russian army go home' and 'No to Russian occupation', as the first Russian military train rolled into Minsk for joint exercises that will continue until September 29.

The demonstrators condemned Belarus's relations with Moscow, calling for closer ties with the European Union instead.

Up to 20 protesters were detained after riot police moved in to disperse them, rights groups said.

The exercises, which Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is due to attend, will involve more than 12,000 troops, over 200 tanks, 470 armored vehicles, and more than 100 aircraft.

Ties between Moscow and Minsk have soured since 2007. Minsk is angry at the rising prices of Russian gas, while Moscow is disdained with what it regards as Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's overtures to the West.

Lukashenko has since released all detainees viewed in the West as political prisoners and held an election deemed an improvement over previous votes.



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