Belarus police arrest leading rights activist

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Belarus police arrested leading rights activist Ales Beliatski on Thursday and searched the offices of the Viasna Human Rights Centre that he heads up, the group said in a statement.

Plainclothes people who said they were from the financial police arrested him, said Viasna, one of the main rights groups in the former Soviet republic.

Officers also searched Beliatski's country home, the statement added.

Viasna has been following a number of trials of opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko's 17-year-old regime, many of whom were arrested following his disputed re-election in December 2010.

The authorities have in recent weeks been trying to thwart opposition-organised flash mob-style protests in which demonstrators have gathered and protested simply by clapping their hands.

Parliament, which contains no opposition deputies, is expected to pass measures to outlaw such events when lawmakers reconvene in September.

© 2011 AFP

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