Belarus protest turns violent as hundreds arrested

Police in Minsk have arrested hundreds of people during a mass rally organised to mark the 99th anniversary of the proclamation of the Belarussian People’s Republic.

Many used the occasion to denounce an unpopular new tax on those not in full-time employment.

Belarus riot police on the loose in Minsk: it takes 3 militarized policemen to detain one elder man.via svaboda #ДзеньВолі pic.twitter.com/NZsQBrOkfj— Maxim Eristavi (MaximEristavi) March 25, 2017

At times, special forces deployed to the streets of the capital forcibly removed protesters chanting slogans and waving signs against the so-called parasite tax.

Two European capitals, with very different scenes. London vs Minsk today. pic.twitter.com/75vLllcVMv— Amy K Mackinnon (@ak_mack) March 25, 2017

Passersby and at least ten journalists were reportedly also detained.

Ahead of the march, police raided the offices of opposition, human rights group Vesna 96 and briefly held dozens of activists.

Public anger has been steadily rising amid falling living standards and a two-year-long recession in Belarus.

More photos from #FreedomDay #protest in #Minsk, #Belarus, today: pic.twitter.com/aVWWsBGo7t— Alex Kokcharov (@AlexKokcharov) March 25, 2017

The demonstration is the latest in a series held since February that pose the biggest threat in years to long-running President Alexander Lukashenko.

He has been seeking to improve ties with the west and the EU, as relations cool with former Soviet ruler Russia.

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