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Belarus protest defies ban in capital

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Belarus protest defies ban in capital

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Some opposition protesters are reported to have broken through police barriers around the main square in the capital of Belarus. Security forces had tried to block access to October Square ahead of a rally called to denounce the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko.

The appeal for people to take to the streets came from opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich, despite a ban on such demonstrations. Hundreds of people have turned out to protest over the past few days. Police arrested many of them in a pre-dawn raid on Friday morning. The rallies are unprecedented in this former Soviet state where there is tough legislation against illegal assembly. President Lukashenko denies allegations that recent elections were rigged, and has shrugged off criticism about his style of government from the US and other countries. While Russia has endorsed the results, the European Union has announced plans to impose sanctions on Belarus leaders, including visa bans.