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15:14 GMT +3 hours20 December 2014
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Detained Belarusian journalists get administrative sentences

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Five Belarusian journalists, detained during unsanctioned rallies in Minsk and other Belarusian cities, were sentenced to administrative arrests ranging from three to 12 days, the Belarusian Association of Journalists said on its website.

Five Belarusian journalists, detained during unsanctioned rallies in Minsk and other Belarusian cities, were sentenced to administrative arrests ranging from three to 12 days, the Belarusian Association of Journalists said on its website.

The association's press service said two journalists from the western Belarusian city of Grodno, who were sentenced to 10 days of imprisonment, were sentenced during a court session held in a pre-trial detention facility.

"Trials right at the police station are becoming increasingly popular in Grodno," the association said. "As pre-trial detention centers are among the so-called 'secure facilities,' neither relatives, nor journalists are allowed at such trials."

The two journalists have already announced hunger strikes in protest.

According to the association, at least 16 journalists were detained on Sunday, all of them are from non-government media. Most of the detainees were released later that day, though seven had to spend the night in prison.

At least three more journalists are to stand trial in the next few days.

A new wave of protests in Minsk and other cities on Sunday saw police use tear gas to break up a protest in the capital in which demonstrators clapped over an Independence Day speech by President Alexander Lukashenko. Some 380 people were arrested in various cities, including over 200 people in Minsk, the Vesna human rights center said.

The unusual act of dissent during the speech was part of the new wave of protests in the authoritarian former Soviet republic in which demonstrators gather and simply clap.