Belarus opposition figures in court
Two leaders of the opposition in Belarus appeared in court on Tuesday after a night in jail as the government pursued a crackdown on the few figures still at large, with more mass demonstrations planned against President Alexander Lukashenko.
Despite most major opposition figures being in jail or in exile, Lukashenko has so far failed to put down protests against his 26-year rule more than two weeks after an election his opponents say was rigged. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets over the weekend and dispersed peacefully. Lukashenko has denied election cheating. He has called the protesters "rats" and says they are funded from abroad.
Olga Kolvakova, the main representative still in Belarus of opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, appeared in court, as did Sarhei Dyleuski, who has led strikes at the Minsk Tractor Factory, one of the country's biggest plants. Both were arrested on Monday. The two are leaders of the opposition Coordination Council, set up last week with the stated aim of opening negotiations with the government. Lukashenko called the council an illegal attempt to seize power and prosecutors have started a criminal case against it.
The council includes dozens of figures representing broad swathes of society, among them author Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, who has been summoned for questioning on Wednesday. Belarusian media released photos of Dyleuski seated in court in a metal cage. Photos of Kolvakova in court were not available.
Lukashenko has threatened to fire any teachers who do not support the government. "The intimidation will not work.
We will not relent," Tsikhanouskaya said in a video link with the European Parliament.