World

Demonstrators in Belarus assail Russia's policy, express solidarity with Ukraine

  • Belarusian opposition protesters shout slogans and wave opposition flags during a rally in Minsk, Belarus, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. March 25 has long been a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition, marking what they call Freedom Day, the anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarusian state. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Belarusian opposition protesters shout slogans and wave opposition flags during a rally in Minsk, Belarus, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. March 25 has long been a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition, marking what they call Freedom Day, the anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarusian state. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)  (The Associated Press)

  • Belarusian opposition protesters wave opposition flags during a rally in Minsk, Belarus, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. March 25 has long been a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition, marking what they call Freedom Day, the anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarusian state. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Belarusian opposition protesters wave opposition flags during a rally in Minsk, Belarus, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. March 25 has long been a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition, marking what they call Freedom Day, the anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarusian state. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)  (The Associated Press)

  • Belarusian opposition protesters shout slogans and wave opposition flags during a rally in Minsk, Belarus, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. March 25 has long been a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition, marking what they call Freedom Day, the anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarusian state. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Belarusian opposition protesters shout slogans and wave opposition flags during a rally in Minsk, Belarus, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. March 25 has long been a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition, marking what they call Freedom Day, the anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarusian state. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)  (The Associated Press)

About 2,000 opposition activists have marched through the Belarusian capital to condemn Russia's policy and express solidarity with Ukraine.

The demonstrators carried a placard reading "Russia is War," a reference to Moscow's support for a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Wednesday's rally in Minsk was approved by the authorities and police didn't intervene.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has forged close economic, political and military ties with Russia, which has supported the ally with cheap energy and other subsidies. Lukashenko has ruled the nation of 10 million with an iron hand for more than 20 years, drawing Western criticism for his relentless crackdown on dissent and independent media.

But Belarus' ties with the West have improved recently as Minsk hosted Ukraine peace talks, and Lukashenko has criticized some of Moscow's moves.