Many people had thought that it could’t get any worse, after almost three months of brutal violence against peaceful protesters, by-standers and journalists.

But Sunday’s reaction to a protest procession of 50,000 people plumbed new depths, even by local standards.

The correspondent for the Times newspaper had a taste of it as he covered the events on Sunday. Gareth Browne was beaten up by two plain-clothes policeman waiting in a doorway, head butted to the mouth and thrown to the concrete floor.

“I tasted my own blood as they pummeled my ribs and kicked me in the kidneys. Having grown up with three brothers there was the odd fight but this was a beating with only the cold concrete beneath me for protection.”

On Monday he was summoned to the immigration department, and then taken to a court where he was made to sit on a bench outside.

“The hearing was over before I realised it had even started. I signed a document and was told to reappear for a second in a fortnight — but simultaneously informed me that I had 24 hours to get out of Belarus.”

The journalist’s expulsion will make it more difficult to record the crimes of those who cling on to power.

Last week the Belarus authorities threatened to shoot unarmed protesters, under the pretext they were getting more radical.

On Friday the despot President said that the undoubted victor in the August 9 presidential election that he claims he won, Svetlana Tikhanouskaya, faces charges of working against the security of the state. An arrest warrant has been issued.

Mrs Tikhanouskaya fled to neighbouring Lithuania within hours of the poll after her family was threatened.

FILE PHOTO: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko speaks at an event in Minsk, Belarus, September 17, 2020. Tut.By via REUTERS