Three leaders of Belarusian Party of Left interviewed by KGB over mass riot case

Three leaders of the Spravedlivy Mir (Just World) Belarusian Party of the Left who spearheaded the Campaign for Fair Elections were interviewed by investigators of the Committee for State Security (KGB) on December 25.

Syarhey Kalyakin, chairman of the party, and Deputy Chairmen Uladzimir Ukhnalyow and Anatol Lashkevich were questioned in connection with a mass riot case opened after the opposition’s street protest in Minsk.

As Mr. Ukhnalyow told BelaPAN, he was picking up Mr. Lashkevich at Minsk’s central railroad station after his arrival from Moscow at 6 a.m. when they were approached by police officers and ordered to follow them to a police station. There they were met by KGB officers who handed them questioning summons and drove them to a KGB office.

The interviews lasted some two-and-a-half hours, according to Mr. Ukhnalyow.

Both gave a written pledge not to disclose any details. “I can only say that we were questioned in the capacity of witnesses in the mass riot case, the investigator asked questions about a wide range of issues connected with the election campaign in Belarus and our activities during this period. I answered the investigator’s questions.” Mr. Ukhnalyow said.

He noted Mr. Kalyakin had been questioned by KGB investigators later in the day.

The Campaign for Fair Elections concluded that Belarus’ presidential election had been marred by multiple irregularities and cannot be described as free or fair.

Seven former presidential rivals of Alyaksandr Lukashenka — Ryhor Kastusyow, Alyaksey Mikhalevich, Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, Vital Rymashewski, Andrey Sannikaw, Mikalay Statkevich and Dzmitry Uss — have been declared suspects in the mass riot case.

Among the suspects are also campaign aides, including Mr. Statkevich’s ally Alyaksandr Arastovich, Mr. Sannikaw’s allies Dzmitry Bandarenka and Alyaksandr Atroshchankaw, Mr. Nyaklyayew’s aides Syarhey Vaznyak, Andrey Dzmitryew and Alyaksandr Fyaduta, Mr. Ramanchuk’s aides Aleh Korban, Anatol Lyabedzka and Anatol Pawlaw and Mr. Rymashewski’s aide Pavel Sevyarynets.

The list also includes a deputy chair of the Malady Front opposition youth group, Anastasiya Palazhanka; former police officer Alyaksandr Klaskowski; Mr. Sannikaw’s wife, prominent journalist Iryna Khalip; and the editor of the Charter’97 news site, Natallya Radzina.

The police instituted the criminal proceedings under Parts One and Two of the Criminal Code’s Article 293 that carries a prison term of between five and 15 years for the organization of mass riots and a prison sentence of between three and eight years for participation in them.