New wave of arrests in Belarus as more than 20 detained in two days

Opposition figure, lawyers and former envoy among latest detained in six cities a year after disputed presidential poll

Belarusian authorities have detained more than 20 people in the latest wave of arrests, continuing their sweeping crackdown on dissent a year after a disputed presidential election, human rights activists say.

Belarus was rocked by protests which were fuelled by the 9 August 2020 re-election of the authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, to a sixth term in a vote that the opposition and the west rejected as a sham. Lukashenko responded to the demonstrations, the largest of which drew up to 200,000 people, with huge repressions in which more than 35,000 people were arrested and thousands beaten by police.

Belarusian authorities have ramped up the clampdown in recent months, arresting scores of independent journalists, activists and all those deemed not loyal. The Viasna human rights centre said on Thursday that more than 20 people have been detained over the past two days in six cities across the country.

Related: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: ‘Belarusians weren’t ready for this level of cruelty’

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