Belarus youth group members detained

Associated Press

MINSK, Belarus - Police and security forces raided an apartment where members of an opposition youth group were meeting Sunday and detained some 30 people, an activist said.

Activists from the Malady Front, or Young Front, were meeting in a rented apartment in Minsk when police and KGB officers burst in, organization member Zmitser Fedaruk said.

He said the detainees included regional leaders of the Young Front from various parts of the ex-Soviet republic of 10 million. Rights activist Lyudmila Gryaznova said some of the detainees were minors.

The officers gave no reason for the detentions, Fedaruk said, and officials at the precinct house where they were taken declined to comment.

Opposition activists are frequently detained in Belarus, whose authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko has been dubbed Europe's last dictator by Western governments for his intolerance of dissent.

In November, a court convicted Young Front leader Zmitser Dashkevich of illegal political activity and sentenced him to 18 months in prison in a ruling condemned by the United States.

In power since 1994, Lukashenko won a third term in March in an election denounced by critics at home and abroad and marred by widespread arrests of opponents.