Lukashenka regime’s victims: jailed, abducted, allegedly assassinated (video)

Brutal dispersals of protest demonstrations, arrests, political prisoners – these words became popular at the very beginning of Lukashenka’s rule. The first mass protest actions in 1996 were even called ‘The Minsk Spring’. But they ended in failure. Nobody could imagine that the worst was yet to come…

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‘Hundreds of people were arrested. Belarusian society was totally shocked: nobody knew what had become to people, how long they would be kept in detention centres. A lot of people were beaten. There was a kind of panic.’

After these sad events human rights centre Viasna (Spring) was set up to help detainees and their families. Ales Bialiatski thought the centre’s activity wouldn’t last long. But it still exists and has loads of work.

As a result of the 1996 Minsk Spring, Zianon Pazniak, the leader of the Belarusian People’s Front, and his associate Siarhei Navumchyk had to leave the country. They became the first Belarusian emigre politicians.

And Aliaksandr Lukashenka started to wipe up even members of his election campaign team.

YURY ZAKHARANKA, ex-Minister of Interior:

‘I told him I would never shoot at people and violate the Constitution. He answered: “If you fail to fulfil my order you’ll be handcuffed!”’

Yury Zakharanka was holding the ministerial position for a year, but later Lukashenka fired him and Viktar Hanchar, his own campaign former chief.

VIKTAR HANCHAR, ex-head of the Central Election Commission:

‘I lost my political neutrality and made a stand for the law and the Supreme Soviet.’

Three years later Hanchar initiated another presidential campaign, but on September 16, 1999 he and his associate, businessman Anatol Krasouski, disappeared without a trace. Earlier Yury Zakharanka had been abducted; journalist Zmitser Zavadski, Lukashenka’s former personal cameraman, was kidnapped in 2000.

ANDREY KLIMAU, deputy of the 12th Supreme Soviet:

We’ll never know the truth about these abductions. When Lukashenka grows very old and leaves the political stage in some 40 years all the people involved will be dead.’

According to independent experts, it is the so called death squads that are behind the story; ex-Interior Ministers Yury Sivakou and Uladzimir Navumau, ex-secretary of the Security Council Viktar Sheyman, ex-commander of special forces Dzmitry Pavlichenka having their hands in the murders.

There has still been no answer where the disappeared are now. Now Lukashenka’s political opponents are thrown in prisons. 4 years ago, answering the question where the beaten opposition politician Niakliayeu was, Lukashenka replied in such a way: ‘You think we kidnapped him and took to some place? There will be no such presents anymore! If you want to talk to him, welcome to the pretrial detention centre!’

Repressions are still in progress: civil activists, politicians, human rights defenders are often grabbed and sentenced to jail terms. After the 2010 post-presidential election peaceful protests over 700 persons were arrested. Most Lukashenka’s rivals were also jailed. Now there are seven political prisoners in the country.

ALES BIALIATSKI, Head of HRC ‘Viasna’:

‘For the last 20 years some 300 people has been convicted over criminal articles, my colleagues estimate.’

A number of refugees is also growing. According to the European Commission, a number of Belarusians seeking political asylum in the EU after the 2010 elections has increased by 1.5.

The student-age youths keep leaving Belarus as well; e.g. over 670 young persons have arrived in Poland to take part in Kastus Kalinouski‘s scholarship program established in 2006 to support the Belarusian students persecuted on political grounds.

Hanna Liubakova, In Focus

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