Dozens of people have been arrested following a protest on Independence Day in Belarus. The demonstration, organised on social networking sites, called for people unhappy with President Alexander Lukashenko, to show up in the capital Minsk and join the protests. However, police fired tear gas on those who gathered and even beat up some demonstrators.
Opposition politician Stanislav Shushkevich is claiming the authorities attempted to disrupt the protests by holding him overnight as he attempted to reach Minsk from Lithuania.
The protesters had been hoping to disrupt Independence Day commemorating the end of Nazi occupation in 1944. Celebrations included marches, bands and a display of military equipment. In his address to the crowds, Lukashenko claimed attempts were being made to overthrow him.
Crackdowns intensified when there were protests claiming the 2010 general election was rigged. Lukashenko’s authoritarianism has led to international sanctions.