Belarus opposition youth leader defiant after KGB jail release

A youth leader of a banned Belarusian opposition organization was defiant on Thursday after his release from a KGB jail, the Belapan news agency reported.

Dmitriy Fedoruk, a senior member of the Molodoi Front (Youth Front) anti-government group, called charges pending against him "a farce", and accused the country's authoritarian government of paranoid overreaction in the face of a few teenagers.

"What I cannot understand from beginning to end is how the whole Belarusian government sees an eighteen-year-old as a national security threat," Fedoruk said at a Minsk press conference.

KGB agents and uniformed police arrested Fedoruk, associate Oleg Korban, and some thirty other government opponents during a Sunday raid on a Minsk apartment.

Fedoruk and Korban were questioned by the KGB until Thursday morning. As the initiators of the apartment gathering, they will stand trial for violating public assembly law banning the gathering of Belarusians for political purposes, unless they are members of an organization sanctioned by the government.

The pair, both aged eighteen, face a potential two-year jail sentence.

Fedoruk was nonetheless defiant of KGB threats to send him to prison, saying "I don't understand why there is a case against me. If there are more political prisoners then that will harm Belarus' reputation in talks with Europe, and our president said that was important. "

Aleksander Lukashenko, Belarus' authoritarian President, in recent weeks has extended an olive branch to European Union nations, primarily because of dramatic energy price hikes by Belarus' formerly reliable ally Russia.

The EU and the US have accused Lukashenko and his regime of systematically violating humanitarian and democratic principles. Most developed nations have banned the travel of Lukashenko and senior Belarusian officials to their countries.

KGB officers according to Fedoruk threatened the activist with immediate sentence with no chance of appeal "But as you can see they then released me," he said.

Fedorchuk linked the crack down against Molodoi Front to the group's upcoming traditional protest day, February 14th, and a government attempt to intimidate Molodoi Front members.

Lukashenko, Belarus' authoritarian leader, runs the country with the assistance of a state-controlled media and Soviet-style police force. Opposition political parties permitted by the Lukashenko regime are poorly-organized, and often feud among themselves. dpa sbk ds