Thursday, April 27, 2006

Back In The USSR: Neo-USSR Presidential Hopeful Lukashenka Praises South African "Freedom Day" While Jailing Three Belarusian Opposition Leaders

"Head of the Belarusian state Alexander Lukashenko extended congratulations to president of South Africa Tabo Mbeki on the national holiday – Freedom Day, BelTA has been told in the Belarusian leader’s press service."

Belarus Telegraph [State Official] News Agency "Alexander Lukashenko congratulates president of South Africa on Freedom Day" April 27, 2006


MINSK (Reuters) - "A court in ex-Soviet Belarus on Thursday sentenced main opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich to 15 days in prison for taking part in a big rally the previous day that police said was unlawful.

Milinkevich, who has become a focus for opposition to veteran president Alexander Lukashenko, said he was being made a political prisoner.

"This is a political action, a political sentence," the bearded Milinkevich said after the judge read the ruling. "Leaders of leading political parties are behind bars."

Other leading opposition activists were also detained in an apparent crackdown by authorities after about 7,000 demonstrators took part in a rally on Wednesday. Milinkevich told Reuters earlier he was guilty of no offences.

Milinkevich stood unsuccessfully against Lukashenko in a presidential vote last month that Western observers said was blatantly rigged.

The European Union, which has a border with Belarus, made its disapproval clear by inviting Milinkevich for high-level talks in Vienna and Strasbourg.

Wednesday's rally was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster -- traditionally a focal point for anti-Lukashenko protests. Some demonstrators took a route police had warned was off-limits....

Riot police came for Milinkevich on Thursday and drove him away, his aide, Pavel Mozheiko said.

"The OMON (riot police) came. They told Milinkevich he was detained, put him in a car and took him away to a police station," Mozheiko told Reuters.

Activists said Vintsuk Vechorko, another veteran opponent of Lukashenko, was picked up on Wednesday night and had already been sentenced to 15 days in jail for public order offences.

Sergei Kalyakin, a communist and senior figure in the opposition movement, had also been detained.

Milinkevich was summoned to the prosecutors' office ahead of Wednesday's protest and told to stay away from October Square -- the site of big demonstrations last month against Lukashenko's landslide victory.

Demonstrators initially tried to gather at the square but later moved on to another site authorised by authorities.

Milinkevich told the gathering the opposition planned to turf Lukashenko out of office within two years by using civil disobedience.

Western countries accuse Lukashenko of crushing fundamental human rights during his 12 years in office."

Andrei Makhovsky "Belarus Opposition Leader Jailed for 15 Days" Reuters April 27, 2006§ion=news&src=rss/

Neo-USSR Presidential 'Election' 2008: Lukashenka versus Putin

Unlike in the United States, Europe, or Ukraine; there are currently no blue or red states (oblasts) in Belarus or the Russian Federation.

Photo credit: Associated Press. With thanks.


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