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Mass protests in Belarus over president's meeting with Putin

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Mass protests in Belarus over president's meeting with Putin
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Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counter-part, Alexander Lukashenko, met in Sochi on Saturday to discuss economic agreements between the two nations.

Their meeting prompted mass protests in Minsk where over 1,000 people came together to voice their anger against further rapprochement between the neighbours.

During the demonstrations, protesters clashed with security forces and chanted “no to integration”. Many fear that if Belarus gets closer to Russia, post-Soviet independence will erode.

Belarus heavily depends on cheap Russian energy and loans to maintain its Soviet-style economy. However, the Kremlin has recently raised energy prices and cut subsidies to the country.

During the meeting between the two states, Putin said he wanted the two nations to "continue coming closer together" socially and economically. Russian officials also stated that Minsk should accept closer economic integration if it is to benefit from lower energy prices.

In 1997, Russia and Belarus signed a union agreement that envisaged close political, economic and military ties. However, they do not form on single state.

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