Dozens Arrested on 10th Straight Sunday of Belarus Protests

Dozens Arrested on 10th Straight Sunday of Belarus Protests”

Security forces in Belarus detained dozens of protesters on Sunday (October 11).

The latest round of sanctions is likely to take several days to prepare, but envoys said the travel bans and asset freezes were no longer conditional on the situation in Belarus, which ministers said was dramatically worsening.

"In Minsk at least, water cannon and stun grenades were used", interior ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova said.

MoscowBelarus police can now use lethal weapons in the streets if needed, the interior ministry said on Monday, due to what it described as the radicalization of mass anti-government protests.

Scores of people were detained in Belarus on Sunday during protests against the country's authoritarian leader, who won his sixth term in office in a vote widely seen as rigged, a Belarusian rights group said. Police quickly moved to disperse the protest with water cannons, stun grenades and truncheons, preventing groups of people in different parts of the city from merging into one large gathering.

Separately, an interior ministry official posted online that police fired live rounds at protesters during an August rally in the city of Brest, but later edited the message.

Among those detained were journalists from Russia's TASS state news agency, although they were later released, the agency reported.

At the weekend Lukashenko held a highly unusual meeting in prison with his jailed critics, including Viktor Babaryko, a banker once seen as the strongman's toughest rival in the elections.

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Footage showed police officers dragging protesters into unmarked black vans and beating them with their batons in the capital Minsk.

They said they acted in self-defence as the men were armed with iron bars, while family members of the deceased man said he had simply been walking along the street.

Unprecedented protests broke out after Lukashenko claimed victory in August elections over Tikhanovskaya, a 38-year-old political novice whose husband Sergei Tikhanovsky was planning to challenge Lukashenko in the elections but was then himself jailed.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who maintains she was the true victor of an August 9 election, issued what she said was a "people's ultimatum", demanding Lukashenko quit power by October 25 and halt the "state terror" unleashed by authorities against peaceful protesters.

The EU had held back from penalising Lukashenko, hoping to persuade him to engage in dialogue with opposition forces to resolve the crisis.

"We have to acknowledge that since our last meeting nothing has improved".

Speaking after chairing a meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell lamented what he called a "disproportionate response" to the rally.

Analysts say the protest movement is keeping him under pressure but the continued backing of the security forces, and for the moment key ally Russian Federation, is allowing him to stay in power.

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