Police in Belarus have detained about 40 activists who tried to stage a protest outside the Russian embassy in Minsk.

Authorities blocked off access to the embassy before the planned protest and picked up the activists as they gathered. Those detained included United Civic Party leader Anatol Liabedzka.

Opposition activists gather in various locations in Minsk on the 16th of each month to mark a day of solidarity with political prisoners. The date was chosen after a leading opposition activist, Anatoly Krasovsky, disappeared on September 16, 1999.

Activists say they chose the Russian embassy as the site of Sunday's protest in hopes of bringing the situation in Belarus to the attention of the Group of Eight summit in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.

Activists in Belarus have repeatedly staged protests since the country's March presidential election which western governments and opposition groups have described as fraudulent.