Italy on Monday deplored the brutal crackdown against pro-democracy protesters in Belarus, where security forces detained over 500 people - including 400 women - at the weekend.
"Seeing peaceful and defenceless citizens being rounded up by security forces takes us back to another time - that of totalitarianism - that Europeans thought they had left behind for ever," foreign ministry undersecretary Ivan Scalfarotto said in a statement.
“These violent methods of repressing dissent do not belong to 21st-century Europe," Scalfarotto added.
Italy's government will convey to Belarusian authorities its "strong expectation" that it immediately releases all political prisoners and ends the violence repression and persecution of peaceful demonstrators," said the statement.
Mass mass arrests including of opposition figures have followed the protests that have swept Belarus since the contested 9 August election that gave president Alexander Lukashenko a landslide victory after 26 years in power and which opposition leaders have said was rigged.