Belarus police crackdown on opposition

Eyewitnesses say state security forces in Belarus have broken up a march by opposition protesters in the capital Minsk after polls closed in the country's presidential election.

A number of opposition leaders, including Vladimir Neklyayev, were reportedly beaten by police.

The planned protest against President Alexander Lukashenko's almost certain re-election was said to be heading to the capital's October Square when it was stopped.

Exit polls vary, but show Lukashenko, who is often referred to as 'Europe's last dictator', to have won by a massive margin - possibly as much as 90 per cent of the vote.

Earlier, authorities warned protesters they would not tolerate any attempts following the vote to whip up tension.

International observers consider Belarus never to have held a free and fair election and the opposition claim this time is no different, arguing the ballot has been heavily rigged in Lukashenko's favour.


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