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Valentine's Day In Minsk

Police break up the protest
Police break up the protest
Belarus's annual opposition rally on Valentine's Day was broken up violently by police this year.

Since the late 1990s, youth activists in Minsk have protested on February 14, with some of them sending cards to Brussels -- a symbol of their support for Belarus joining the European Union.

This year, thousands of activists from Belarus's Youth Front movement and other youth organizations gathered on Minsk's Yakub Kolas Square on Saturday afternoon. (Photos here from our Belarus Service.)

Activists tried to march towards Independence Avenue with the banned white-red-white Belarusian flags and posters saying "Action of Love."

But police and OMON forces blocked their way to the avenue and used force to disperse the gathering, beating many of the activists.

Zmitser Dashkevich, a Youth Front leader who was beaten, told RFE/RL that "Lukashenka's regime showed clearly what it means when talking about liberalization."

Another Youth Front activist, Artem Dubski, was detained on February 13 on his way to the Valentine's Day protest.

In 2008, Dubski was found guilty of participating in an unsanctioned rally and his freedom was restricted for two years, which includes being forbidden from leaving his town.

-- Belarus Service

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