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Minsk Riot Police End Demonstration, Detain Some 250

MINSK, March 24, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Riot police in the Belarus capital Minsk moved overnight onto a central square to end a demonstration against the reelection of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

The RFE/RL correspondent said some 100 riot police took away protesters and put them into waiting trucks. The AFP news agency said one of those arrested was the son of the main opposition leader, Alyaksandr Milinkevich.

Milinkevich said "the authorities are destroying freedom, truth, and justice."

By the end of the 10 to 15 minute operation, according to RFE/RL's correspondent, all of the protesters -- numbering about 250 -- had been taken away. All that remained were their tents and some gear.

"I think the authorities, once again, demonstrated that they do not know what a dialogue with the society is," Milinkevich told journalists this morning. " They don't know how to talk to the people. They only know the language of force, the language of lies.''

"This power has no future because, in the modern world, it is not possible to build society by force," he added. "This is not the 18th century, and it is not Alyaksandr Lukashenka's kingdom. He is a bankrupt for sure."

Fellow opposition leader and former presidential hopeful Alyaksandr Kazulin spoke to journalists on the square after the arrests.

"We saw today that new times have come," Kazulin said. "The youth showed all its heroism. They also showed that authorities couldn't stand it, and it is really sad. And this is our history, our life."

The demonstrators have been protesting all week against the election which they say was rigged.

(with additional agency material)

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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