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Lukashenka`s presidential rivals held in KGB jail


Former presidential candidates arrested over Sunday’s anti-Lukashenka post-election demonstration are held in the detention facility of the Committee for State Security (KGB), KGB officers told relatives on Monday, BelaPAN said.

The five include Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, Andrey Sannikaw, Vital Rymashewski, Mikalay Statkevich and Ales Mikhalevich.

Two more candidates, Ryhor Kastusyow and Dzmitry Uss, were brought to the KGB jail after the protest, but they were freed on Monday.

Mr. Sannikaw’s wife, prominent journalist Iryna Khalip; Mr. Nyaklyayew’s ally, Alyaksandr Fyaduta; and Mr. Rymashewski’s campaign chief, Pavel Sevyarynets, are also held in the KGB detention facility.

The KGB press office would not comment on the detentions.

More than 600 people were grabbed by police after the violent dispersal of a mass anti-Lukashenka demonstration in Minsk on the night between December 19 and 20.

The European Union and the United States have condemned the use of violence against protesters.

Appearing on television on Sunday night, Prosecutor General Ryhor Vasilevich said that investigators would determine the responsibility of each of the arrested demonstrators for what he described as riots in Minsk.

Interior Minister Anatol Kulyashow, in an interview broadcast by Channel One, said that criminal proceedings had been instituted in connection with the demonstration under Article 293 of the Criminal Code, which penalizes the organization of mass riots. It carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

The minister claimed that more than 30 police officers had been injured during scuffles with the protesters and police cameras had been damaged.

Alyaksandr Lastowski, spokesman for the Minsk city police department, told BelaPAN on Tuesday that an overwhelming majority of those arrested received jail sentences of up to 15 days.

New charges may be brought against them, he said, noting that those jailed were now probed within the framework of the mass riots case.

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