Belarus KGB arrests 30 opposition activists meeting in apartment

Minsk - Officers from the Belarusian KGB arrested more than 30 members of an opposition group participating in an unsanctioned apartment meeting, the Belapan news agency reported Monday.

The detentions took place Sunday evening in a residential region of the Belarusian capital Minsk. Most of the arrestees were teenagers or young adults belonging to the Molodoi Front (Youth Front) opposition group.

Uniformed police, plain-clothes KGB agents, and a military special forces unit conducted the arrests.

Most of the Youth Front members were released after two to three hours of questioning, most reportedly because they were younger than 18.

Some group members were interrogated until the early hours of Monday morning, said Vladmir Labkovich, a Youth Front spokesman.

Two of the group's top leaders, Oleg Korban and Dmitriy Fedoruk, reportedly were still being held in a Minsk KGB-run detention centre by mid-afternoon. Family members were unable to contact either.

Based on verbal allegations made by police officers during the apartment raid, both are likely to face criminal charges by Wednesday, said Boris Goretsky, a Fedoruk associate.

The main accusations will be violation of public assembly and legal organization law, Goretsky predicted.

Belarusian law forbids political organizational work by private individuals not belonging to a registered group, or not operating from a government-sanctioned office. Molodoi Front is banned.

Aleksander Lukashenko, Belarus' authoritarian leader, runs the country with the assistance of a state-controlled media and Soviet-style police force.

c 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur