Belarusian Police Detain Wednesday Protesters

Posted June 22nd, 2011 at 10:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Belarusian police detained scores of demonstrators at a protest rally against President Alexander Lukashenko in the capital Minsk Wednesday night.

Protesters clapped their hands as cars driving slowly down the main streets, sounded their horns in support of protesters.

Special police forces rounded up groups of activists in central Minsk and drove them away in police buses. Witnesses say at least 100 people were arrested, including journalists.

President Lukashenko has overseen a sweeping crackdown against the opposition and government critics, but about a thousand activists gathered Wednesday to hold an unauthorized anti-government rally.

The calls for protests have multiplied in recent weeks as the country's financial and economic crisis deepened.

Activist are using social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter to call for silent anti-government protests every Wednesday. The first round was held June 15.

The government has banned the Wednesday rallies, but reports say they have taken place in cities across Belarus.

President Lukashenko, who has been in power for 17 years, is dubbed “Europe's last dictator.” His tightly controlled country is in financial and economic crisis. Belarus has recently received a bailout from a Russian-led regional credit group. But the government is seeking a larger loan from the International Monetary Fund.