Belarus opposition youth leader released from KGB jail

Dmitriy Fedoruk, a youth leader of a banned Belarusian opposition organization Maladi front (Youth Front) was defiant today, after his release from a KGB jail, the Belapan news agency reports. Fedoruk 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, his 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 today 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. "

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