Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Nearly two dozen opposition demonstrators were arrested (one pictured here in the back of a police van) outside a court in western Belarus Monday where a youth activist went on trial for membership in an unregistered organization called Young Front, a rights activist said.

After the activists started yelling anti-government slogans, police encircled the group and arrested 22 of them, said Tatyana Protko, leader of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, a human rights group.

"The authorities are afraid of solidarity and that's the only way this aggression and all these new arrests can be explained," she told the International Herald Tribune.

Reuters photographer Vasily Fedosenko said police detained him and Viktor Drachyov, a photographer for Agence France Presse, and about 20 protesters. The two photographers were released within hours. Protesters were taken to court to face charges of staging an illegal public gathering, usually punishable by a fine or up to 15 days in jail.

Young Front, an independent youth resistance organisation that emerged as a youth wing of the Belarusian Popular Front and is a member of the European Coalition block, is one of the most active organized youth groups of Belarus, and is a target of severe govenment repression.

Young Front is the member of European Young Conservatives. The European Young Conservatives is a grouping of youth wings of right of center political parties, usually with a Eurosceptic bias.

What are y'a gonna do...

The following is from JAVNO.

Belarus Police Detain Protesters and Journalists

Police in Belarus detained a group of opposition activists for staging an unlawful protest on Monday and held two journalists, including a Reuters photographer, who were covering the event.

Police made the detentions outside a courthouse in the town of Baranovichi, about two hours' drive from the capital Minsk, detained Reuters photographer Vasily Fedosenko said by mobile telephone from inside the local police station.

The activists were protesting against the prosecution of a member of outlawed opposition group Young Front who went on trial in Baranovichi on Monday on charges of membership of a banned group.

Fedosenko said police detained him, a photographer working for Agence France-Presse news agency, and about 20 protesters.

He said police officers said he would be taken to court on Monday and tried. The charge sheet, which he was shown, stated he had shouted opposition slogans and created a disturbance.

Belarus police said they had no comment and Fedosenko said he was simply doing his job as a journalist.

"They (the police) started detaining everyone, including the journalists, even though I showed them my official Belarus Foreign Ministry accreditation and told them I was carrying out my professional duties," said Fedosenko.

Western governments accuse Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko of harassing opponents, muzzling the media and rigging elections. The United States and the European Union have stopped issuing entry visas to senior Belarus officials.

Lukashenko remains popular at home and tells voters he has spared them from the lawlessness and turmoil of other former Soviet republics.

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