Balaclava-clad security service personnel detained scores of all-female demonstrators in Minsk on Saturday, ahead of a much bigger demonstration planned for Sunday. Eye-witnesses said that dozens of women and girls were seized, some dragged by their hair, and placed in vans.

The detentions mark a change of strategy by the administration, which may have become tired of the weekly protests that have provided opportunities for the journalists who still remain in the Belarusian capital to portray a ‘beauty and the beast’ stand-off.

The arrests failed to extinguish the unauthorised gathering, which kept moving through the city taking less obvious routes to avoid further detentions. In some cases, traffic police obligingly held up traffic to allow the women to pass.

The interior ministry said it would announce the number of arrests at a later time.

PHOTO: via Reuters