More than 10,000 people demonstrated in Minsk yesterday on Independence Day, the anniversary of the 1918 proclamation of the short-lived Belarusan People’s Republic independent of Russia. The legitimate parliament’s chairman, Syamyon Sharetsky, spoke in support of the "democratic and sovereign path of development." The demonstration’s watchword was "hands off Belarus." Massive police cordons escorted the procession. Some clashes occurred as demonstrators resisted police attempts to snatch protesters from the marching ranks and stoned police video operators who were filming opposition members. At least 70 participants were arrested, including the leader of the opposition’s "shadow government," Henadz Karpenka, former internal affairs minister Yurii Zakharenka. The U.S. embassy’s first secretary, Serge Alexandrov, was briefly detained, publicly accused of spying, and expelled on a 24-hour’s notice.
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