Belarus: A former presidential candidate detained

(Reuters) – A longtime political opponent of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, who ran against him in the disputed 2020 presidential election, has been taken into custody, his team said.

Andrei Dmitriev, 41, an activist leading an anti-Lukashenko social movement, was taken into custody in Minsk on Wednesday, according to a post on his Facebook page.

The reason for his detention is not yet known, the message adds.

The Belarusian authorities did not comment on this detention.

Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, claimed victory after the 2020 poll, which was marred by allegations of voter fraud and a harsh crackdown on opposition by authorities loyal to the leader.

News of his victory over main opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanoskaya sparked weeks of mass protests in which hundreds of thousands of Belarusians took to the streets to demand Alexander Lukashenko step down.

Andrei Dmitriev came fourth in the election with 1.2% of the votes cast, according to official results.

Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, violently suppressed the protests and has since stepped up his crackdown to silence political opposition.

Rights groups estimate that there are around 1,500 political prisoners in Belarus due to the crackdown.

(Reuters report, French version Augustin Turpin, edited by Blandine Hénault)

Add a Comment