| 18 April 2024, Thursday |

Police in Belarus capital arrest more than 100 protesters

Belarus police detained over 100 people on Saturday, among them three editors of online news platforms, as they gathered for fresh protests against president Alexander Lukashenko, according to reports from the outlets and the Russian RIA state-run news agency.

The city square in Minsk where the demonstration was called to start on Saturday afternoon was surrounded by police vehicles and prison vans, and roads leading to it were closed.

No large-scale demonstrations took place at the site, though more than 100 people were detained during the course of the day, RIA cited a spokeswoman for the Belarus Interior Ministry as saying.

Videos shared on Belarus opposition media channels showed black-clad police officers violently detaining people on the square and in other parts of the city, including what appeared to be passersby. In many videos, people detained did not appear to be carrying any banners or flags. “Over 100 people have been transported to [police stations] for administrative violations,” the ministry’s Olga Chemodanova was quoted by RIA as saying. “These were cases of one-person pickets and other public disturbances,” she said, adding there were no major protests on Saturday, despite the opposition’s call. Among those detained were Galina Ulasik and Anna Kaltygina, editors at opposition news outlet, said the organisation, whose channel on the Telegram messenger app has over 400,000 followers Another outlet, Nasha Niva, with 90,000 Telegram readers, said its editor-in-chief Yahor Martsinovich was also detained at the square, along with a photographer. The platform, which regularly shares videos of detentions and police brutality filmed by its followers, is a significant source of information on anti-government protests in Belarus. The demonstrations became a weekly fixture in the capital and beyond after an election in August returned Lukashenko to power that opposition figures deemed rigged.