Protesters clash with police at Belarus rally
MINSK: More than 1,000 protesters chanting “Shame!” and “Long live Belarus!” defied a ban and confronted police on Saturday as they tried to stage a rally in Minsk against President Alexander Lukashenko’s re-election.
Riot police, clad in black and equipped with batons, drafted in reinforcements to handle crowds who surged out of side streets towards Minsk’s central October Square. Some scuffling ensued as some demonstrators pushed their way through a police cordon. But police generally prevented the protesters from getting onto the square, site of a tent camp cleared away by police on Friday.
Defeated opposition candidate Alexander Milinkevich told protesters to go to the nearby Yanka Kupala park to continue their rally.
In line with the pattern earlier in the week, police showed tolerance unusual for the tightly-controlled ex-Soviet state and refrained from using force to break up the demonstration. Earlier Milinkevich, credited with only 6 percent of the vote to Lukashenko’s 83 in the March 19 election, had urged supporters to mass “no matter what” in October Square. reuters