By : dpa
Minsk - Police in Belarus on Tuesday arrested several government critics and clamped down on independent media, Minsk-based human rights group Charter 97 said.
The arrests were made in at least five cities and the offices of several civil rights organizations were also searched. Computers, discs, books and pamphlets were seized after raids on the homes of critics of the government.
Eleven activists of the civil rights campaign group, Say the Truth, were detained in Minsk, among the 20 people held in the capital, Radio Svaboda reported.
Raids were also conducted in the homes of three journalists, who were interrogated, Charter 97 said.
The regime of President Aleksander Lukashenko has in recent months intensified efforts to control internet access and state monitoring of government critics.
A former collective farm boss, Lukashenko has repeatedly been called "the last dictator in Europe," by Western critics.
Lukashenko has justified his tight control of Belarusian society as necessary to protect the former Soviet republic's economy from takeover by international capital, and to maintain the living standards of average Belarusians.