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US Condemns Beating of Protesters in Belarus

The United States has condemned the use of "brutal force" by police against pro-democracy demonstrators in Belarus Wednesday.

State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack in a statement Wednesday, criticized what he called the "severe beating" of protesters in Minsk, leaving at least one activist hospitalized. He said the incident is another in a long series of repressive acts by Belarusian authorities against citizens.

The demonstrators were protesting ahead of a planned visit to Belarus Thursday by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Putin is to hold two days of talks with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Media reports had suggested Mr. Putin might discuss with Belarusian authorities further development of the planned union between the two countries. But the Kremlin says a constitutional act on merging Russia and Belarus is not on the meeting's agenda.

Russian and Belarusian officials have previously denied reports of any plans to make Mr. Putin the head of the new union state.

Talks on the issue have been mired in repeated disagreements.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.