There has been a violent end to an opposition rally in Belarus. Police moved in to break up a march by some protesters, led by oppositition candidate Alexander Kozulin, which was heading for a detention centre in Minsk where hundreds are being held. They were arrested after an earlier protest.
The opposition is calling for a re-run of an election that they claim was rigged to return President Alexander Lukaschenko to power. Police used stun grenades and batons to drive the marchers back. At least two people were injured. Kozulin was reportedly detained.
Earlier, people attending the rally in a park heard opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich proclaim the creation of what he called a “popular movement for the liberation of Belarus.” The opposition had originally planned to stage their rally in the central October Square, the scene of demonstrations since last Sunday’s vote
But police had sealed it off. The election has been condemned in the West but the result has the backing of Russia. Despite the disputed outcome few analysts doubt Lukashenko does enjoy substantial support around the country. Some observers had speculated that Lukashenko was under pressure from Moscow not to allow violent action by the police that could embarrass his most powerful ally.