Police in Belarus crack down on protesters, detain dozens (video)




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Belarusian law enforcement officers detain participants of an opposition rally to reject the presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus October 11, 2020. BelaPAN via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Security forces in Belarus detained dozens protesters on Sunday and used force, including water cannon and batons, to break up crowds demanding a presidential election, TV footage showed.

 

Footage published by local news outlets showed officers wearing black balaclavas dragging protesters into unmarked black vans and beating protesters with their batons at a rally that drew thousands onto streets capital Minsk.

One sequence showed a van unleashing a powerful jet water from a cannon into crowds, visibly pushing them back.

Belarus, a former Soviet closely allied with Russia, has been rocked by street protests and strikes since authorities announced that veteran leader Alexander Lukashenko had won an Aug. 9 vote by a landslide.

People have since taken to streets every week to demand that Lukashenko step down and allow for a election to be held.

Lukashenko, a former collective farm who has been in power since 1994, denies his win the result of cheating.

Security forces have detained more than 13,000 people during a post-election crackdown, some of whom have been later freed.

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Lukashenko’s political opponents are either in jail or have fled abroad.

Sunday’s violence followed a meeting Lukashenko held on Saturday in a Minsk jail with detained opposition , an unusual event that prompted some opposition activists to believe he preparing to make concessions.

In a rare concession, two people who had taken part in the meeting with Lukashenko — businessman Yuri Voskresensky and Dmitry Rabtsevich, director of the Minsk of PandaDoc software maker — were released late on Sunday, Belarus state television reported.

The States, the European Union, Britain and Canada have imposed sanctions against a string of senior officials in Belarus accused of fraud and human rights abuses in the wake of the presidential election.

Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who is based in Lithuania, has called for elections and for all political prisoners to be freed.

“We will continue to march peacefully and persistently and demand what is ours: new free and transparent elections,” Tsikhanouskaya wrote on her Telegram channel on Sunday.

Similar rallies were held in other cities across the country on Sunday.

Watch video below: