Violent crackdown in Belarus, many protesters detained

Belarusian police detained numerous protesters on Sunday during demonstrations against President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk, in what observers called the most violent crackdown seen in weeks, dpa reported.

Many peaceful protesters were beaten by police and dragged into minibuses right at the outset of the demonstration. Some 150 people, including 20 journalists, were detained in the afternoon, according to the human rights organization Viasna. Police also deployed water cannon, stun grenades and tear gas, news website tut.by reported.

Prison transporters were seen on the roadsides, as well as military vehicles. Photographs and videos shared online showed large groups of people heading towards the centre of Minsk.

Black-clad security forces hit demonstrators and carried them to small buses. Some were pinned to the ground by masked police, while others, injured with bandaged heads, could be seen sitting on the ground, according to photographs shared on the Telegram messaging app.

Many journalists were taken into police custody before the protests, according to Belarusian media. This was in order to check their documents, officials said.

Previously, Lukashenko met with several jailed members of the opposition and its coordination council. The conversation took place in the prison run by the KGB intelligence service and lasted four and a half hours, Pul Pervogo, a Telegram channel close to Belarusian state television, reported on Saturday. According to the opposition portal Nexta, constitutional changes were a topic in the talks. Lukashenko reportedly said in the meeting that the "constitution is not written in the streets."

 

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