Police in Belarus block demonstrators from opposition rally

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Police in the capital of Belarus have blocked several hundred opposition demonstrators from holding a rally and detained some of them.

The anti-government rally planned for Monday in Minsk was organized to mark the 101st anniversary of the day in 1919 Belarusian politicians declared the short-lived Belarusian People's Republic, an independent state they tried to form amid the chaos of World War I.

The republic ceased to exist the next year when Soviet and Polish forces took the territory.

The anniversary has become a regular rally day for opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko, who has cracked down on opposition and independent news media during his quarter-century in power.

On Monday, police officers cordoned off the central square in Minsk where a rally was to be held. About a dozen protesters were detained.