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Belarusian small-market vendors are angry about new taxes (file photo)
Minsk, 25 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Belarusian police broke up a protest in Minsk today that was calling for the resignation of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Around 2,000 people had gathered for the protest in a square opposite Lukashenka's office in downtown Minsk. Police armed with truncheons broke up the unsanctioned rally and detained some 100 people. Several minor injuries were reported.
Correspondents report many of the demonstrators were vendors angry about the 1 January introduction of an 18 percent VAT on goods imported from Russia.
Demonstration organizer Andrei Klimov put the protestors' demands this way: "Events are just beginning here. Today, the Belarusian revolution begins, and I believe it will end in victory. I'm convinced that we will be able to remove Lukashenka from power in the presidential election of 2006. We are a majority in Belarus and we're united in one desire -- that has nothing to do personally with Lukashenka or these AMONists (riot police). It has to do only with our livelihood and the desire to live in a free European country."
Opposition supporters criticize as fraudulent Belarusian elections as well as a referendum last year in which Lukashenka won backing for constitutional changes enabling him to run for a third term in 2006.
(RFE/RL Belarus Service/Reuters/dpa)