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April 12, 2011

Eleven dead after Belarus subway bombing

Eleven dead after Belarus subway bombing

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

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File photo of Oktyabrskaya station
Image: Redline.

Eleven people are reported dead and more than a hundred injured after a bomb went off in a Minsk Metro station in Minsk, Belarus on Monday evening.

According to witnesses, the explosion happened just after a train entered the Oktyabrskaya station at about 1755 local time (1555 UTC). The explosion reportedly damaged the station, with a section of the ceiling having collapsed.

One witness said: “People are being treated on the spot, some are being taken away, some—those who are conscious and in a more or less normal state—are being helped into ambulances.”

A police spokesperson said security forces were placed in a state of “heightened alert” after the incident, and the area around the station was closed. President Alexander Lukashenko said police forces are to “turn the country upside down” to determine who was responsible.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear, though police are saying that terrorist activity was responsible. “We must find out who gained by undermining peace and stability in the country, who stands behind this,” Lukashenko said. “Who did not like the stability in Belarus?”



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September 1, 2010

Russian embassy attacked by Molotov cocktails in Minsk

Russian embassy attacked by Molotov cocktails in Minsk

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010 File:Embassy of Russia in Minsk.jpg

The Russian Embassy in Minsk
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

The Russian embassy in Minsk, Belarus has been attacked by Molotov cocktails. Unknown assailants threw two of the explosives into the embassy premises. No one was injured but a car was destroyed. After the attack security was tightened around the Belarussian embassy in Moscow.

The Russian foreign office released a statement on the event stating that “we view this incident as an outrageous act in which there is a clear desire by certain forces to interfere with the normal work of the embassy and to bring distrust and tensions to bilateral relations.”

This is not the first time the embassy has come under attack. In 2007, a grenade was thrown at the building while then Russian President Vladimir Putin was visiting.

Belarussian–Russian relations have been tense in recent months, as in June, Russia shut off Belarus’s gas supply over unpaid bills.



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April 28, 2006

Opposition leader Alaksandar Milinkievič jailed in Belarus

Opposition leader Alaksandar Milinkievič jailed in Belarus

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Milinkievič at a meeting with Lech Kaczyński, president of Poland, March 2006

The leader of the main opposition party, Alaksandar Milinkievič, has been jailed for 15 days in Belarus for taking part in an ‘unsanctioned rally’. The march, held in the centre of Minsk, marked the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Held every year, it is a traditional forum for expressing political opposition. At least 6,000 protesters took part, accompanied by riot police.

Demonstraters are said to have asked permission for the rally and to have received authorisation for having the protest on some sites. Protestors say that their protest was on the authorised sites and was not unlawful.

Conflicts between the opposition party and the government, led by Alexander Lukashenko, have been numerous since Lukashenko was re-elected as President on March 19, 2006. The opposition party has organised numerous demonstrations and rallies, and over 1,000 of their members being arrested.

Milinkievič has said that he has received “a political sentence”. Other opposition leaders Alexander Bukhvostov and Sergei Kalyakin were also jailed on the same day.

US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has said the US “condemns this act” and called upon Belarus to act within accepted international principles on the treatment of political opposition. NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has also condemned the action.

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March 26, 2006

European Union demands release of Belarusian opposition leader

European Union demands release of Belarusian opposition leader

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Belarus.

The European Union (EU) has demanded the release of Alexandr Kozulin, a Belarusian opposition leader arrested during a protest rally in Minsk. Kozulin was one of the leaders in a series of rolling protests against the recent election victory of President Alexander Lukashenko.

The EU president is “appalled by the violence used against demonstrators by the Belarusian authorities,” it said in a statement. “It expresses serious concern about the arrest of demonstrators and members of the democratic opposition, including presidential candidate Alexander Kozulin, and demands their immediate release,” the statement said.

Reports indicate that the streets of Minsk have settled to a “peaceful standstill” on Sunday, after riot police moved in to break up a protest rally – a day after reports that police brutally dispersed large crowds in the capital. Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. During a rally on Saturday, Alexander Kozulin was “pulled out of a car by police and taken away.”

Kozulin’s spokeswoman Nina Shedlovskaya said he had been beaten by police. On Sunday, Kozulin’s wife, Irina, described his condition was “OK.” “The rescue squad wasn’t called for him,” she told the Associated Press. Also Sunday, about 80 pro-Lukashenko youth activists picketed the U.S. Embassy in Minsk, shouting “Hands off Belarus.” Russian news agencies report that the Polish Embassy was also picketed.

Kozulin was detained as protesters marched on a jail holding others detained during what is being called “the biggest protests in Belarus for ten years.” Belarus Independent Media Centre reports that the “arrest of 460 people in the protest tent camp on Friday morning had provoked the population and strengthened the general protest mood in Belarus.”

The Belarus IMC report says: “More than 5000 people gathered on Saturday in the centre of Minsk for the demonstration which had been announced. Authorities opposed the protest with all available police forces, special services and the army.”

Demonstrators demand a repeat of last week’s election poll. Mr Lukashenko, President of Belarus since 1994, has been widely accused of pursuing “Soviet-style policies, closing down the media and cracking down on rivals.” President Lukashenko contends the United States and Western European countries are giving financial and moral support to the opposition group.

EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner also demanded that Belarus release members of the opposition. “I urge the Belarussian government to adhere to the rules of democracy,” Ferrero-Waldner was quoted as saying. “If the Belarussian government does not show remorse, visa bans will probably be sharpened. In concrete terms, that means that those responsible will not be able to travel to EU member states. Foreign assets of Belarussian lawmakers could also be frozen. It’s important that sanctions do not hurt the people.”

Alexander Milinkevich, Belarus’s main opposition leader, praised Belarussians who have been protesting since the election. However he acknowledged that their numbers were not enough to defeat Lukashenko’s government.

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  • Belarus IMC” — Belarus Independent Media Centre, March 25, 2006
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March 20, 2006

Lukashenko wins disputed Belarus elections

Lukashenko wins disputed Belarus elections

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Belarus

It appears that Alexander Lukashenko, 51, has won the 2006 Belarus presidential election, and is heading for his third term in office. The official preliminary results are 82.6 percent for Lukashenko and six percent for the main opposition candidate Alexander Milinkevich, says the BBC. The turnout for the elections was 92.6 percent of Belarus’ seven million eligible voters. The final results will be available Monday morning.

Before the elections, the opposition candidates accused Lukashenko of plans for rigging the elections. Several opposition newspapers were closed down and journalists were arrested some weeks before the elections. Many foreign observers, including the Polish, Finnish and Danish delegations, were refused entry into the country before the elections.

Approximately 10 000 supporters of Milinkevich gathered in Oktyabrskaya Square in Belarus’ capital, Minsk. According to the BBC, they shouted anti-Lukashenko slogans and waved flags that are banned under Lukashenko’s regime. The protests have not involved violence so far.

Lukashenko previously warned people against the start of uprisings similar to recent ones witnessed in the Ukraine and Georgia. He said that people attempting to stage a coup will be treated as terrorists and will be executed. The European Union and the United States have expressed their concerns over allegedly authoritarian rule in Belarus. The EU is planning to deny visas to Belarusian officials with alleged involvement in election rigging, as a response to the denial by Belarus of entry into the country to EU election observers.

Milinkevich demands new elections. According to the BBC, he said, “We demand new, honest elections. This was a complete farce…. We will demand that this election be recognized as invalid, including by international organisations,” Milinkevich said, according to the AFP.

Milinkevich notes that the opposition candidates were restricted from the media, and opposition supporters were arrested. Lukashenko, in contrast, has control over Belarus’ propaganda machine, including state television. According to the AFP, opposition candidate Milinkevich received in total one hour of TV air time for his campaign. Belarus officials reject his demands, and insist the elections were free and honest.

Lukashenko denied being a dictator, saying “… it’s impossible to have a dictator in Europe. Only stupid people would think that.” He said the U.S. president George W. Bush is more of a dictator than he himself is.

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