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Belarus police detain hundreds in shutdown of election protest camp

[JURIST] [JURIST Europe] Early Friday morning local time, Belarus police swept down on hundreds of demonstrators camped out in Minsk's Oktyabrskaya Square in protest against the results of last Sunday's presidential elections [JURIST report] which returned Alexander Lukashenko [official website; BBC profile] to power in Belarus [JURIST news archive] with 82.6 percent of the vote, according to official results [Belarus Central Election Commission tally, in Belarusian]. After a scuffle with a few protestors who resisted, 200-300 were quickly loaded into vans, leaving the camp abandoned after about 20 minutes.

International election observers have said the elections were severely flawed [JURIST report] while opposition candidates, including Alexander Milinkevich [campaign website; Wikipedia profile], are calling for a re-run of the poll [JURIST report]. Another demonstration is scheduled for March 25. The US has condemned the police action and has said that it does not accept the results of the vote [transcript]. Russia views the elections as legitimate and has pledged support for Lukashenko. BBC News has more.

10:55 AM ET - In the wake of the crackdown the European Union announced Friday that it would impose threatened sanctions [EU Austrian Presidency statement] against Belarus. AP has more.

11:23 AM ET - White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Friday that the US would join the EU in imposing sanctions against Lukashenko. AP has more.

Angela Onikepe is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.

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