MINSK, Sept 18 Police in Belarus broke up a
small protest on Tuesday against a parliamentary election the
two main opposition parties say will be a fake exercise, and
detained several protesters as well as a group of journalists.
The journalists, who included Reuters' Minsk-based
photographer, a photographer from the Associated Press (AP) and
a television film crew from German channel ZDF, were released
after about two hours.
They were subjected to a search at a police station and had
their cameras taken away. When they were released, the
photographers' cameras were returned to them but the pictures
they had taken had been erased. ZDF retained its footage.
The human rights group Vesna-96 said four opposition
activists detained during the protest against next Sunday's
election were still being held by police.
"We were photographing the picket when a bus came up and men
in civilian clothes jumped out and quite aggressively began to
push everyone into the bus," said Reuters photographer Vasily
The AP photographer was struck in the face and his
spectacles broken, Fedosenko said.
When the journalists were released, a plain-clothes
policeman apologised for the incident, but did not explain why
they had been detained.
A spokesman for Minsk police said the journalists had been
released, but made no further comment.
Belarus's two main opposition parties have denounced
Sunday's vote as a sham and have urged people to boycott
The poll for the 110-seat chamber takes place two years
after police cracked down on street protests following a
presidential election which installed President Alexander
Lukashenko for a fourth term in power.