Conflicts & War

Members of Belarus opposition detained by police after protest

Moscow, Aug 24 (efe-epa).- Two members of the Belarusian opposition committee were detained by police in Mink on Monday, a day after mass anti-Lukashenko protests returned to the streets of the capital.

Private media outlet Belsat named the pair as Olga Kovalkova and Sergei Dylevsky, who were detained by officers outside a Minsk tractor factory currently involved in a strike as part of the mass protest movement against embattled Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.

The opposition committee was set up by Lukashenko’s rival Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who stood in for her jailed blogger husband in the contentious 9 August presidential elections and fled to Lithuania after the vote.

Lukashenko, who has served as president over the former Soviet republic since 1994 and is described by his detractors as Europe’s last dictator, took an 80 percent share of the votes in the 9 August election, according to the official tally.

The result was dismissed as fraudulent by the Belarusian opposition and the European Union.

Faced with an unprecedented and bold wave of opposition protest, with more than 100,000 flooding the streets of Minsk on the last two successive Sundays, Lukashenko has described the opposition committee as an attempted coup and has threatened counter-measures.

As the protests dissipated on Sunday, the president was filmed on state TV descending from a helicopter to greet riot police at a roadblock. In the footage, Lukashenko could be seen holding a rifle.

The Belarusian leader spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation on Monday, the latest in a series of calls with his ally and neighbor.

Lukashenko has accused Nato of amassing forces on the Belarusian border, something the Alliance has vehemently denied.

Earlier in the week, Lukashenko ordered an end to the unrest in the capital, prompting fears of an imminent clampdown.

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