Belarusian Police Arrest Opposition Protesters, Journalists

By VOA News

Police in Belarus have arrested about 20 opposition activists who staged a protest outside a courthouse in the southwest of the country.

Belarusian police also arrested two photographers from Reuters and the French news agency who covered Monday's protest in the town of Baranavichi.

The activists who gathered outside the court were protesting the prosecution of an opposition party member Yaraslau Grischenya. The defendant is charged with membership in the Young Front -- an officially unauthorized organization.

Reuters photographer Vasily Fedosenko says he was detained despite showing his Belarusian government media accreditation. He says Belarusian police accused him of taking part in a public disturbance.

The Belarusian opposition website Charter97 quotes one detained activist Pavel Sevyarinets as saying police beat the protesters.

Western governments accuse Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of harassing opponents, suppressing the media and rigging elections.

Last month, Washington expanded its list of Belarusian politicians and officials barred from entering the United States. The Belarusian government responded by banning some U.S. officials from entering the country.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.