Police in Belarus capital arrest more than 100 protesters

Associated Press

Kyiv, Ukraine – Police in the capital of Belarus arrested more than 100 people who assembled for a protest march Saturday to call for the resignation of the country’s authoritarian president.

The planned event in Minsk indicated that supporters of the political opposition seek to revive the wave of mass protests that gripped Belarus for months last year but were dormant during the winter. During the first sizable anti-government protests of 2021, more than 200 people were detained Thursday.

Police officers detain a demonstrator as they prevent an opposition action to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 27, 2021.

Five journalists were among those arrested. Four were later released, but it was not clear if the fifth, the editor of the popular newspaper Nasha Niva, faced charges.

Some journalists arrested while covering last year’s protests were sentenced to two years in prison.

Protests broke out in August after a disputed election that gave President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term in office. Lukashenko, who has been characterized as Europe’s last dictator, has strongly repressed opposition and independent news media during 26 years in power.

The post-election protests were the largest and most persistent show of opposition the former Soviet republic has seen in that time, with some of them attracting as many as 200,000 people.

More than 33,000 people were arrested during the protests, and many of them were beaten by police.