WARNING: Video contains violent content and graphic language. Viewer discretion is advised. Security forces in Belarus detained at least dozens of protesters on Sunday and used force, including water cannon and batons, to break up crowds demanding a new presidential election, TV footage showed.
Footage purportedly shows police officers wearing black balaclavas dragging protesters into unmarked vans at a rally that drew thousands onto the streets of Minsk, the capital of Belarus.
It also showed police vehicles unleashing a powerful jet of orange liquid from a cannon into crowds.
Belarus, a former Soviet republic closely allied with Russia, has been rocked by street protests and strikes since authorities announced that veteran leader Alexander Lukashenko had won an Aug. 9 vote by a landslide.
People have since taken to the streets every week to demand that Lukashenko step down and allow for a new election to be held.
Lukashenko, a former collective farm manager who has been in power since 1994, denies his win was the result of cheating.
Security forces have detained more than 13,000 people during a post-election crackdown, some of whom have been later freed.
Lukashenko’s key political opponents are either in jail or have fled abroad.
Sunday’s violence followed a meeting Lukashenko held on Saturday in a Minsk jail with detained opposition leaders, an unusual event that prompted some opposition activists to believe he was preparing to make concessions.
Police in Minsk said on Sunday they had detained “several dozen” people. According to a list published be the rights group Vesna (Spring), more than 330 have been detained by Sunday evening.
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