The Hindu

Belarus Opposition members questioned in criminal case

They are accused of trying to seize power from Lukashenko

- Reuters

Two leading members of a newly formed Opposition council in Belarus were questioned on Friday in a criminal case that accuses the body of trying to seize power from President Alexander Lukashenko after a disputed election.

Dozens of supporters accompanie­d Maksim Znak and Sarhey Dyleuski as they arrived for questionin­g at the headquarte­rs of the Investigat­ive Committee.

Mr. Znak, a lawyer, said on entering that he feared he might be arrested. But when he emerged later, he said he had “productive discussion­s”. “We gave our explanatio­n, we will continue to work,” he said.

The Coordinati­ng Committee was launched this week with the self-described aim of negotiatin­g a transfer of power amid the largest political crisis in Belarus since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Mr. Lukashenko, in power for 26 years, was declared the winner of an August 9 presidenti­al election, but tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets saying the election is rigged. Public figures from sport and the media have deserted him in recent days, significan­t developmen­ts in a country where the state controls nearly all cultural bodies.

Mr. Lukashenko’s main opponent, Sviatlana Tsikhanous­kaya, has fled to Lithuania, where she has released a steady stream of video messages calling on her followers to rise up peacefully. On Friday she called for more workers to go on strike to protest against the election result. At her first public news conference since going into exile, Ms. Tsikhanous­kaya said said she would return to Belarus when she felt it was safe.

 ?? AFP ■ ?? Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovsk­aya in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Friday.
AFP ■ Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovsk­aya in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Friday.

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