Belarus seals off Minsk’s central square, detain protesters en masse

Belarus authorities used barbed wire to close off a central square in the capital Minsk and started to detain protesters as they took to the streets for another march on Sunday as every weekend, news wires reported. A Reuters witness saw a column of people numbering at least 10,000 moving towards Independence Square, where the government sits.

On Saturday, at least 5,000 people had marched through the city demanding the release of a jailed opposition leader, in the latest in a wave of mass protests after the August rigged presidential vote. A total of 114 people were held across the country last night, of which 99 were detained in the capital, the Interior Ministry said.

Oktyabrskaya Square in central Minsk was fenced off with barbed wire on Sunday, with armed law enforcement forces seen behind it, a Reuters witness said. Independence Square was also fenced off. At least 100,000 protesters gather in Belarusian capital, police detain hundreds. “Soldiers rounded us up in several circles, people were selectively pulled out of the crowd and beaten,” a protester said to Reuters.

According to the Interior Ministry, additional police and interior ministry forces were called to the streets of Minsk on Sunday to prevent the holding of what it described as an unauthorised rally. Belarus’ key opposition figures have been either jailed or forced out of the country. Lukashenko is due to visit Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin on Monday as both countries start joint military drills.

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