Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, top center, attends a military parade marking the Independence Day in Minsk, Belarus, Tuesday, July 3, 2018. The former Soviet nation celebrates its Independence Day on July 3 in memory of the end of Belarus occupation by Nazi Germany troops during the Red Army main summer offensive in 1944. (Sergei Gapon/Pool Photo via AP)

Belarus authorities thwart opposition rally in Minsk

July 03, 2018 - 10:02 am

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Authorities in Belarus have thwarted the opposition's attempt to hold a rally and have detained several activists.

Tuesday's crackdown in the Belarusian capital of Minsk reflected President Alexander Lukashenko's intolerance for dissent despite his recent overtures to the West.

Nikolai Statkevich, an opposition leader who challenged Lukashenko in the 2010 election, was detained outside his home. Several other activists were rounded up by plain clothes police as they attempted to gather for a rally marking Belarus' Independence Day.

The holiday was marked by a military parade.

One of the activists who attempted to organize the protest, Alyes Abramovich, said its' goal was to show solidarity with political prisoners.

Lukashenko has ruled the ex-Soviet nation of 10 million since 1994, cracking down on dissent and free media and maintaining Soviet-style control over its economy.

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