Police arrests opposition protesters in Belarus


Police in Belarus have detained demonstrators and journalists at a gathering of hundreds of people protesting President Alexander Lukashenko’s re-election.

Mr Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994, is seeking a sixth term in office in August.

Opposition candidates gathered supporters’ signatures in the capital Minsk before riot police moved in.

A Radio Free Europe correspondent was detained while reporting live on-air.

On Saturday the rights group Vyasna said at least 120 people had been arrested across the country during protests. Some have now been released.

Earlier authorities arrested Mr Lukashenko’s main rival Viktor Babaryko on suspicion of financial crimes amid increased harassment of opposition figures.

Viktor Babaryko

Mr Babaryko was head of Belgazprombank, a Belarus subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom, before entering politics.

His 30-year-old son Eduard, who is running his election campaign, was also arrested on suspicion of tax evasion.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called for the release of Mr Babaryko, calling his detention “politically motivated”.

Mr Lukashenko alleged that his authorities had foiled a plot designed to destabilise the country, claiming that forces “both from the West and from the East” were interfering in Belarus.

International election monitor the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, has not recognised any elections in Belarus as free and fair since 1995.


Nneka Ukachukwu


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