Belarus activists arrested before planned protest

By Associated Press

Published: 11:29 GMT, 25 March 2017 | Updated: 11:29 GMT, 25 March 2017

MINSK, Belarus (AP) - Riot police in the Belarusian capital have raided the office of a human-rights group hours ahead of an attempt by opposition activists to mount a large protest march.

Authorities banned the demonstration planned for Saturday afternoon and dozens of police detention trucks were deployed in the center of Minsk.

The authoritarian former Soviet republic has seen an unusually persistent wave of protests over the past two months against President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled since 1994. After tolerating the initial protests, authorities cracked down. Lukashenko this week alleged that a "fifth column" of foreign-supported agitators was trying to bring him down.

Belarus police detain a woman prior to an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Over the past two months, protests have broken out across the country of 9.5 million, sometimes attracting thousands - initially they were focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) Belarus police detain a woman prior to an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Over the past two months, protests have broken out across the country of 9.5 million, sometimes attracting thousands - initially they were focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Belarus police detain a woman prior to an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Over the past two months, protests have broken out across the country of 9.5 million, sometimes attracting thousands - initially they were focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

About midday Saturday, police raided the office of the Vesna human rights group. About 30 people were detained, said Oleg Gulak of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, another rights organization.

A line of police vehicles is seen through a car window prior to an opposition action in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. The initial protests focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) A line of police vehicles is seen through a car window prior to an opposition action in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. The initial protests focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

A line of police vehicles is seen through a car window prior to an opposition action in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. The initial protests focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Belarus police detain an activist, center, prior to an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Over the past two months, protests have broken out across the country of 9.5 million, sometimes attracting thousands - initially they were focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) Belarus police detain an activist, center, prior to an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Over the past two months, protests have broken out across the country of 9.5 million, sometimes attracting thousands - initially they were focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Belarus police detain an activist, center, prior to an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Over the past two months, protests have broken out across the country of 9.5 million, sometimes attracting thousands - initially they were focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

A Belarus police officer speaks to a group of people prior to an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Over the past two months, protests have broken out across the country of 9.5 million, sometimes attracting thousands - initially they were focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) A Belarus police officer speaks to a group of people prior to an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Over the past two months, protests have broken out across the country of 9.5 million, sometimes attracting thousands - initially they were focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

A Belarus police officer speaks to a group of people prior to an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Over the past two months, protests have broken out across the country of 9.5 million, sometimes attracting thousands - initially they were focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Belarus police detain an activist prior to an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Over the past two months, protests have broken out across the country of 9.5 million, sometimes attracting thousands - initially they were focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) Belarus police detain an activist prior to an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Over the past two months, protests have broken out across the country of 9.5 million, sometimes attracting thousands - initially they were focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Belarus police detain an activist prior to an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Over the past two months, protests have broken out across the country of 9.5 million, sometimes attracting thousands - initially they were focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Belarus police detain a man prior to an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Over the past two months, protests have broken out across the country of 9.5 million, sometimes attracting thousands - initially they were focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) Belarus police detain a man prior to an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Over the past two months, protests have broken out across the country of 9.5 million, sometimes attracting thousands - initially they were focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Belarus police detain a man prior to an opposition rally in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Over the past two months, protests have broken out across the country of 9.5 million, sometimes attracting thousands - initially they were focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

A police vehicle drives prior to an opposition action in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. The initial protests focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) A police vehicle drives prior to an opposition action in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. The initial protests focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

A police vehicle drives prior to an opposition action in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 25, 2017. The initial protests focused on the labor law but have grown to encompass calls for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, whom critics call Europe's last dictator. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

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Belarus activists arrested before planned protest
Larry Whyte

He is a leading authority on business trends including ‘big data’, self-employment and the social media revolution. He’s the author of the award-winning book, Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed (2011, Wiley) and a regular speaker for Bloomberg TV. He has spoken about global mega trends, big data and the social media revolution at conferences and business events around the world .

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