Police in the capital of Belarus, Minsk, have prevented several hundred opposition sympathizers from holding a rally and detained several of them.
The antigovernment rally on March 25 was planned to mark the 101st anniversary of the day in 1918 when Belarusian politicians declared the short-lived Belarusian People’s Republic.
The republic ceased to exist the next year when Soviet and Polish forces captured the territory during the Polish-Soviet war.
On March 25, police forces cordoned off the main square in Minsk, where the rally was to be held. About a dozen protesters were detained. Nearly all of them were released later in the evening.
Among those detained were opposition politicians Vital Rymasheuski and Mikalay Kozlov, and musicians Lyavon Volski, Zmitser Vaytsyushkevich, Paval Arakelyan, and Ihar Varashkevich, according to Vesna human rights group.
March 25 has become a regular rally day for opponents of authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has cracked down on opposition and independent news media during his almost 25 years in power.