Fri, 07 May 2021

MINSK -- The Belarusian Committee of State Security (KGB) has confirmed the detention of the chairman of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front (BNF), Ryhor Kastusyou, and noted political analyst Alyaksandr Fyaduta amid an ongoing crackdown on dissent following a disputed presidential election last year.

In a statement on April 13, the KGB said the two men were being held on unspecified charges, adding that detailed information on the cases will be provided later.

Kastusyou's relatives said earlier that the politician had been detained in the eastern city of Shklou on April 12 and taken to Minsk.

Meanwhile, Fyaduta went incommunicado on April 12 in Moscow, where he works as a media consultant. Police in the Russian capital said they had started looking for him after his relatives raised concerns about his whereabouts.

His wife, Maryna Shybko, told RFE/RL on April 13 that she was currently in Moscow, where she went to look for him, only to learn that he had been detained.

'I do not know if he is in Minsk or in Moscow. It is funny to say that my husband is capable of committing a crime, as well as Kastusyou. I don't have the words to describe what is happening now,' Shybko said.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has ruled the country since 1994, was declared the winner in the August 2020 election, which was widely viewed as rigged in his favor.

Thousands of citizens have since taken to the streets to protest the results, saying Lukashenka's challenger, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, actually won the election.

Tsikhanouskaya left Belarus for Lithuania after the election for security reasons, while Lukashenka has directed a brutal postelection crackdown in which almost 30,000 people have been detained, hundreds beaten, several killed, and journalists targeted in the action.

Many other senior opposition figures have also left, or were forced to leave Belarus, fearing for their safety, while several of those who haven't left have been detained by security officials.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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