Fri, 30 Oct 2020

Security forces in Minsk detained more than 100 protesters on September 26 during a women's march against Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who claimed victory in the country's presidential election more than a month ago amid reports of widespread fraud.

Riot police in balaclavas rounded up demonstrators and packed them into minibuses and police vans, according to RFE/RL's Belarus Service. A number of journalists were among them.

The detentions began soon after the women, many dressed in white and carrying red and white flowers and waving red-and-white opposition flags, gathered to march through the capital.

The march, which Minsk residents called the 'people's inauguration' of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, lasted about 2 and 1/2 hours.

The march took place three days after Lukashenka held a secretive inauguration in Minsk amid a police lockdown in the city and Internet blackout.

Lukashenka has directed a brutal postelection crackdown in response to protests, including thousands of arrests, beatings, and other mistreatment of peaceful protesters, and the expulsions of foreign journalists. He has denied accusations that the presidential election on August 9 was rigged.

Rallies were reported elsewhere in Belarus, including Hrodna. People were detained in Brest, Homel, and Zaslavl, the Vyasna rights group said.

Vyasna published a list of 106 people it said had been detained in Minsk during the march. Late in the day, a group of street musicians was detained after drawing a crowd while playing Soviet-era rock star Viktor Tsoi's 'We Want Changes' in an underground passage, Vyasna said.

Among the women taken into custody was 73-year-old Nina Bahinskaya, a frail but resolute figure who has been a regular participant of the anti-Lukashenka protests.

A security officer in a balaclava grabbed the red-and-white flag from Bahinskaya's hands before dragging her into a minibus. She was later released, but the flag was not returned.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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