Belarus' police use tear gas to break up protest

AP News
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Posted: Jun 13, 2011 10:21 AM
Belarus' police use tear gas to break up protest

Police in Belarus tear gassed protesters and arrested 22 motorists after they temporarily blocked a border crossing into Poland.

Several hundred people blocked the road Sunday evening to protest new rules severely limiting the amount of gasoline and Belarusian goods that can be taken out of the country. The trade in the items is the main source of income for many living along the Polish border.

Belarus, which is suffering a severe financial crisis, recently sharply devalued its currency and froze prices on some goods. The authoritarian government imposed the export limits Saturday to prevent cheap Belarusian goods from flooding out of the country.

Police said they used tear gas after the protesters refused to disperse and arrested 22.

Those arrested face up to 15 days in jail and future restrictions on their movement across the border, a spokesman for the state agency in charge of border security said.

Some of the traders arrested cross the border as much as seven times per day, spokesman Alexander Tishchenko said.

Rights activist Valentin Stefanovich said the government responds to any protest with excessive force because it fears an explosion of social unrest because of the economic crisis.