Seven Belarusian Presidential Candidates Face 15 Years In PrisonBelarusian human rights organization Viasna (Spring96) says seven presidential candidates who ran against the country’s authoritarian leader could face up to 15 years in prison in the wake of postelection violence and massive arrests.
It reported that the security service, which is still called KGB, has filed charges against 20 top opposition figures, including the seven presidential candidates, for organizing mass disturbances.
They include 64-year-old Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu, who was beaten unconscious during the protest and subsequently snatched from his hospital bed by men in plainclothes.
A KGB spokesman, Alyaksandr Antonovich, declined to comment.
More than 600 people, including the candidates, were arrested during mass protests after the December 19 election that gave Alyaksandr Lukashenka a fourth term in office with some 80 percent of the vote. The Interior Ministry said the activists were given sentences from between five to 15 days.
Two of the arrested candidates were later released, but both of them -- Ryhor Kastusyou and Dzmitry Vus -- were summoned to KGB offices afterwards for further questioning.
Earlier, Justice Minister Viktor Golovanov has warned that political parties associated with the protests in Minsk may be “liquidated.”
... Meanwhile, international criticism is continuing to pour in against Belarus’ crackdown on opposition protesters.
This article appeared in
Belarusian Review, Vol. 22, No. 4
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|Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, December 22, 2010