Belarus police hold activist over blasts-lawyer

MINSK, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Belarus police arrested an activist on Thursday opposed to President Alexander Lukashenko -- accused by the West of crushing fundamental rights -- in connection with explosions in a provincial town, a lawyer said.

Pavel Krosovsky of the "Young Front" group was detained east of the capital Minsk on suspicion of involvement in two blasts which injured more than 40 people last year in Vitebsk, near the Russian border, Pavel Sapelko, a human rights lawyer, said.

"He is being held on suspicion of attempted murder," Sapelko said by telephone.

"This does not mean that he is suspected of carrying out the explosions himself. He is alleged to have been linked to them."

Lukashenko, in power since 1994, is accused by Western countries of hounding opponents, closing down independent media and rigging elections.

His landslide re-election in March, dismissed by the opposition and the West as fraudulent, sparked four days of unprecedented mass protests, eventually dispersed by police.

Krosovsky has yet to be charged with anything and can be held for up to 10 days. An attempted murder charge carries a maximum death penalty.

Belarus, unlike other ex-Soviet states, has no moratorium on executions of convicted criminals.

Sapelko said Krosovsky was not in Belarus when the explosions occurred.

Police were unavailable for comment.

The blasts occurred near a bus stop and a cafe. Two suspects were held for a time but released for lack of evidence.

A leader of the Young Front group, Dmitry Dashkevich, was arrested by police last month on suspicion of membership of an unregistered organisation -- punishable by up to three years in prison under tough laws adopted last year ahead of the election.