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Belarus Ministry Says 84 Arrested After Minsk Rally


Minsk, May 31 (RFE/RL) -- The Belarussian Interior Ministry says 84 people were arrested in Minsk after clashes broke out between anti-government demonstrators and riot police yesterday.

The opposition Belarussian Popular Front said more than 100 were arrested. Meanwhile, the parliament today ordered an investigation into the crackdown on the 3,000-strong demonstration.

The crowd was demanding the release of seven Ukrainian activists who were jailed after similar protests last month. They accused the government of keeping the Ukrainians in inhuman conditions, putting them in cells with felons and allowing them to be beaten.

Police reportedly intervened to break up yesterday's rally after a crowd gathered outside President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's office building. An Associated Press correspondent reports that police struck the heads of protestors with batons and gun barrels, immediately mopping up the blood that spilled onto the pavement. Lukashenka is reported to be on holiday at the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Yesterday's demonstration was the fourth big protest since Lukashenka signed a deal last month on closer ties between Belarus and Russia.
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