Updated at 17:25,07-01-2021

Lukashenka defends Russian occupants: Mass arrests and beating of oppositionists in Minsk


A rally of protest against bringing Russian troops in Belarus with the slogan "No to Russian Occupation!" was brutally dispersed in Minsk.

Some dozens of opposition activists came today to a city square with banners "Russian Army, Go Home!" and "No to Russian Troops in Belarus!", raised Belarusian national white-red-white flags. Riot militiamen in uniform and mufti ran up to the protesters. Militia officers were snatching banners and beating people. Militiamen threw oppositionist stop the ground, kecked them, and stroke them with batons. Many arrested activists got serious injuries.

Militia officers also beat girls and women.

In spite of blows of baton, legs, and fists, the participants of the rally continued shouting "Long Live Belarus!"

Dozens were arrested, among them coordinator of the civil campaign "European Belarus" Zmitser Bandarenka, head of the Minsk BPF department Viktar Ivashkevich, "European Belarus" activists Alyaksandr Atroshchankau and Zmitser Barodka, "Young Front" leader Zmitser Dashkevich, one of "Young Belarus" leaders Zmitser Kaspyarovich, and other opposition activists.

People made several attempts to come to the square. But every march with banners was suppressed by militia. A wagon drove up and took the demonstrators to a militia station.

More than ten oppositionists were detained preventively before the demonstration. So, the total number of the detained is some tens.

A rally under slogans "No to Russian Occupation!" was carried out in protest against starting the strategic military exercises Zapad-2009. First echelons of Russian troops arrived today in Belarus.

One of the aims of the exercises is liquidation of military conflicts, but Belarusian democrats believe the forthcoming exercises threaten independence of Belarus. The Belarusian land has never met such amount of Russian soldiers before – 6000 out of 12500 soldiers, involved in the training, are Russians. Political leader of Russia have stated several times about possible brining Russian troops to Belarus in case of a threat to Lukashenka’s regime.