MINSK — Hundreds of people were detained by Belarusian security forces in Minsk on October 11 in what observers said was the most violent crackdown in weeks against protesters demanding an end to the authoritarian rule of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Police used water cannons, stun grenades, and tear gas to disperse crowds in central Minsk after blocking streets and closing metro stations.
Some 586 people, including at least 40 journalists, were detained, mostly in Minsk, but in other cities as well, according to the human rights organization Vyasna.
Belarus has been rocked by protests since Lukashenka, in power since 1994, was declared the winner of the country’s August 9 presidential election amid allegations of widespread vote rigging.
His top rival, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, was forced to flee to Lithuania after the vote, which supporters and others say she won. She left Belarus for Lithuania after the election amid reports that she and her family were threatened by authorities.
The EU and United States have refused to recognize Lukashenka as the legitimate ruler of Belarus.
In Minsk on October 11, peaceful protesters were beaten by police and dragged into minibuses at the outset of the demonstration.
Black-clad security forces hit demonstrators and carried them to small buses. Some were pinned to the ground by masked police, while others, injured with bandaged heads, could be seen sitting on the ground.