Minsk: Several thousand people have
turned out for an anti-government rally in Belarus to call for
the freeing of political prisoners and for the former Soviet
republic to become a European-style democracy.
Today`s protest rally was the largest since authoritarian
President Alexander Lukashenko won another term in a December
2010 election and intensified his crackdown on the opposition.
The opposition has traditionally held rallies on March 25
to mark the anniversary of Belarus` short-lived declaration of
independence from Russia in 1918.
Lukashenko`s government usually bans the rallies and
sends police in to break them up.
This year, the protesters were allowed to gather
peacefully, but each one had to pass through security controls
and be photographed.