Minsk, August 21
Authorities in Belarus detained a frontrunner of placing manufacturing facility staff and threatened demonstrators with felony costs on Friday within the newest response to large post-election protests difficult the nation’s authoritarian president of 26 years, who accused the United States of fomenting the unrest.
Investigators additionally summoned a number of opposition activists for questioning as a part of a felony probe right into a council they created with the acknowledged objective of coordinating a transition of energy with the federal government and the protesters demanding President Alexander Lukashenko’s resignation.
President Alexander Lukashenko blamed the US of instigating the protests that began on the evening of the Belarus’ August 9 presidential election and intensified after officers declared him the winner with 80% of the vote.
“The US is planning and directing everything, and the Europeans are playing up to it,” Lukashenko mentioned whereas visiting a state farm to rally help Friday.
The United States on Thursday urged Belarus’ authorities to have interaction in a dialogue with the opposition council and described the election that handed Lukashenko a sixth time period as neither free nor truthful. European Union leaders mentioned this week they have been making ready sanctions towards Belarusian officers.
Speaking to agricultural staff, Lukashenko bluntly rejected Western affords to mediate between his authorities and the opposition, telling the US and the EU to thoughts their very own enterprise.
“It’s just a convenient way to distract attention from their own problems,” he mentioned. “They should sort out their own affairs first.”
Belarus’ Interior Ministry mentioned Friday that Yevgeny Bokhvalov, who organised the strike on the big Minsk Automobile Plant, was detained, however gave no additional particulars. Workers on the manufacturing facility the place heavy vehicles are made have been on strike since Monday to indicate solidarity with the election protesters, as have staff at with many different industrial vegetation throughout the nation.
The strike committee on the big Belaruskali potash manufacturing facility in Soligorsk mentioned brokers from state intelligence company KGB detained one of many organizers of the walkout, Dmitry Kudelevich, however he managed to flee via a bathroom window and fled to neighbouring Ukraine.
The labour motion has introduced a tricky problem to 65-year-old Lukashenko, who relied on blue-collar staff as his core help base all through his iron-fisted rule.
In a bid to halt the strike, the Belarusian chief has warned that the contributors would face dismissal and ordered regulation enforcement companies to guard manufacturing facility managers from opposition stress.
“Most of all, Lukashenko fears the factory workers’ protest, so he tries to scare strike organizers and stop the strikes,” mentioned Sergei Dylevsky, the chief of the strike-organizing committee on the Minsk Tractor Plant.
Dylevsky, a member of the opposition Coordination Council created arrange this week to facilitate the transition of energy, was summoned for interrogation together with one other council member, lawyer Maxim Znak.
“Even if they arrest us, it will not stop the protests and make Lukashenko look legitimate,” Dylevsky mentioned.
Early Friday, police deployed to dam the streets across the headquarters of the Investigative Committee the place the opposition activists have been to be questioned. Several dozen demonstrators rallied close by to protest the authorities’ actions because the post-election protests entered their 13th straight day.
“Hundreds of KGB operatives came to factories to question and scare the workers,” mentioned 53-year-old engineer Andrei Yelkin who works on the Minsk Automobile Plant. “We are calling for dialogue, but the authorities are responding with threats and new repressions.” In a bid to stem the each day demonstrations, Belarus Prosecutor General Alexander Konyuk on Friday warned that contributors in unsanctioned protests might face felony costs.
The Prosecutor General’s workplace has opened a felony probe into the creation of the Coordination Council, charging it violated the structure and threatened nationwide safety. The council members have rejected the accusations and demand their actions absolutely adjust to Belarusian regulation.
The council has known as for a brand new presidential election organized by newly shaped election commissions, in addition to for an investigation into the protest crackdown and compensation for victims of police violence.
During the primary 4 days of post-election protests, police detained nearly 7,000 folks and injured tons of with rubber bullets, stun grenades and golf equipment. At least three protesters died.
The crackdown fueled large outrage and swelled protesters’ ranks, forcing authorities to vary ways and cease breaking apart crowds. But after standing again for a number of days, police once more beefed up their presence on the streets and deployed exterior main factories which have joined the strike.
On Friday, Lukashenko as soon as once more derided the opposition as Western puppets and vowed to take steps to rapidly finish the protests.
“You shouldn’t worry about that. It’s my problem that I must solve. And believe me, we will solve it in the nearest days,” he mentioned. “They mustn’t destroy the country, we will not allow that to happen.” Hundreds of state tv workers have additionally gone on strike this week, shaking the federal government’s management of the media. Lukashenko acknowledged Friday that a number of Russian TV journalists have been working at Belarusian state TV to fill the hole. AP