Belarus: Thousands of protesters take to street despite warning shots
Protesters in Belarus faced repression on Sunday, as security forces reportedly fired warning shots to stop demonstrators from gathering.
The anti-government protests have taken place in the capital for 12 straight weeks since Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko won a contested election.
The opposition has rejected the outcome as fraudulent and considers its leader, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, to be the actual winner of the vote.
According to an AFP journalist who was at the scene, the police fired in the air in an apparent attempt to stop the protesters.
Photo and video footage shared on the messaging app Telegram also showed streets lined with uniformed people in riot gear facing protesters.
Anonymity witness told Reuters that riot police used force to disperse marchers who had reached the memorial site on the outskirts of Minsk.
“People got to a field near Kurapaty, (police) buses pulled up and chased after people at top speed, then they started throwing (stun) grenades. What’s more, they were throwing them into the thick of the crowd,”
“A lot of people have been detained. It all happened in an open field, so there was nowhere to run,” the witness said by phone.
According to the human rights group Viasna, around 40 detentions took place, including of journalists on the scene.
Interior ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova told AFP that a number of people had been detained but denied that police used stun grenades and other riot-control equipment against demonstrators.