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Belarus: Young People Demonstrate Against Lukashenka

Minsk, 27 July 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Several hundred people demonstrated in the Belarusian capital today to protest the authoritarian rule of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Reports say most belonged to the Zubr youth movement, which has thrown its weight behind Uladzimir Hancharyk, Lukashenka's main rival in the 9 September presidential election.

The demonstrators laid a wreath at a monument to World War II dead and swore an oath to "fight against the dictatorship" before staging a sit-down protest.

Some held photos of opposition politicians who have disappeared in Belarus. Police dispersed the demonstrators and made at least 12 arrests. Hancharyk and two former investigators who have claimed asylum in the United States alleged this month that several of those who disappeared are among some 30 people killed by a "death squad" run by Lukashenka's leadership.

Today's protest follows a similar one yesterday, when some 500 people lined a main street in Minsk holding portraits of opposition figures who have disappeared and demanding answers from the government about their fate.