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Anti-government protesters march in Belarusian capital

Published
Holding flags of opposition parties people attend celebration in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, March 24, 2019, on the eve of March 25, a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition.  Many people gather to mark what they call Freedom Day, on the 101st anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarus state, the Belarusian People's Republic lasted until 1919. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — About 2,000 opponents of Belarus' authoritarian government have rallied in the country's capital of Minsk.

The Sunday rally marked the 101st anniversary of the formation of the short-lived Belarusian People's Republic, an attempt to form an independent state amid the chaos of World War I. It ceased to exist the next year when all the territory was taken by Soviet or Polish forces.

The anniversary has become a traditional rally day for opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko, who has cracked down on opposition and independent news media during his quarter-century in power. Demonstrations also took place in the cities of Brest and Grodno.

The human rights group said Minsk rally organizer Zmitser Dashkevich was detained by police.

A man with an old Belarus republic flag attached in his cap attends celebrations in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, March 24, 2019, on the eve of March 25, a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition. Many people gather to mark what they call Freedom Day, on the 101st anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarus state, the Belarusian People's Republic lasted until 1919. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
People attend celebrations in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, March 24, 2019, on the eve of March 25, a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition. Many people gather to mark what they call Freedom Day, on the 101st anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarus state, the Belarusian People's Republic lasted until 1919. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Covered by Ukrainian state flag a man takes part in celebration in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, March 24, 2019, on the eve of March 25, a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition.  Many people gather to mark what they call Freedom Day, on the 101st anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarus state, the Belarusian People's Republic lasted until 1919. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
People cast shadows on opposition flag during celebration in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, March 24, 2019, on the eve of March 25, a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition.  Many people gather to mark what they call Freedom Day, on the 101st anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarus state, the Belarusian People's Republic lasted until 1919. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
People attend celebrations in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, March 24, 2019, on the eve of March 25, a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition. Many people gather to mark what they call Freedom Day, on the 101st anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarus state, the Belarusian People's Republic lasted until 1919. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
People attend celebrations in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, March 24, 2019, on the eve of March 25, a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition. Many people gather to mark what they call Freedom Day, on the 101st anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarus state, the Belarusian People's Republic lasted until 1919. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Holding flags of opposition parties people attend celebration in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, March 24, 2019, on the eve of March 25, a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition.  Many people gather to mark what they call Freedom Day, on the 101st anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarus state, the Belarusian People's Republic lasted until 1919. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Holding flags of opposition parties people attend celebration in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, March 24, 2019, on the eve of March 25, a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition. Many people gather to mark what they call Freedom Day, on the 101st anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarus state, the Belarusian People's Republic lasted until 1919. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
People cast shadows on opposition flag during celebration in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, March 24, 2019, on the eve of March 25, a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition.  Many people gather to mark what they call Freedom Day, on the 101st anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarus state, the Belarusian People's Republic lasted until 1919. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
People cast shadows on opposition flag during celebration in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, March 24, 2019, on the eve of March 25, a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition. Many people gather to mark what they call Freedom Day, on the 101st anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarus state, the Belarusian People's Republic lasted until 1919. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Covered by Ukrainian state flag a man takes part in celebration in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, March 24, 2019, on the eve of March 25, a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition.  Many people gather to mark what they call Freedom Day, on the 101st anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarus state, the Belarusian People's Republic lasted until 1919. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Covered by Ukrainian state flag a man takes part in celebration in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, March 24, 2019, on the eve of March 25, a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition. Many people gather to mark what they call Freedom Day, on the 101st anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarus state, the Belarusian People's Republic lasted until 1919. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A man with an old Belarus republic flag attached in his cap attends celebrations in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, March 24, 2019, on the eve of March 25, a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition. Many people gather to mark what they call Freedom Day, on the 101st anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarus state, the Belarusian People's Republic lasted until 1919. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A man with an old Belarus republic flag attached in his cap attends celebrations in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, March 24, 2019, on the eve of March 25, a traditional day of demonstration for the opposition. Many people gather to mark what they call Freedom Day, on the 101st anniversary of the 1918 declaration of the first, short-lived independent Belarus state, the Belarusian People's Republic lasted until 1919. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)