Belarusian KGB crackdown continues

In the wake of the police crackdown in Minsk last weekend, offices of Polish funded broadcasters have been raided, while relatives of arrested prisoners are being denied access to them.

The door to the Belsat TV station offices in the Belarusian capital, funded by Poland's TVP public broadcaster, was sawed through at the weekend, by someone presumed to be from the security services as part of a nationwide crackdown against independent media.

An employee at the station, Michal Janczuk, has told Polish Radio that whoever it was that broke into the offices found nothing, as Belsat workers had cleared them of anything valuable, leaving behind only a 40 year-old manual typewriter with a note saying "Especially for you" tied to the keyboard.

Belarusian authorities also raided the offices of the Polish-based European Radio for Belarus, even though the broadcaster has accreditation from the Foreign Ministry in Minsk.

Officers from the Belarusian KGB took computers and other equipment, says the NGO Vesna 96.

Following the disputed presidential elections last Sunday, with results claiming incumbent Alexander Lukashenko received 80 percent of the vote nationwide, authorities detained more than 600 protestors for 15 days, with 20 people including five opposition leaders facing up to 15 years in prison.

Beatings, threats

Olga Neklyayeva, the wife of the 62 year-old opposition leader who was beaten by police during the 40,000 strong demonstration following the presidential election, says she is not being allowed to visit her husband, who has now been transferred from a hospital to prison.

Meanwhile, 37 year-old Natalia Koliada, artistic director of the Belarus Free Theatre Company, has told UK journalists in London that she was threatened with being beaten and raped following her arrest at the protest.

Koliada joined a star-studded gathering at London's Old Vic on Sunday to raise awareness of the Belarus Free Theatre.

She said she was thrown into a van - a kind of "mobile jail and courtroom".

"It was dark inside, and I couldn't see a thing. The guard said 'My only dream is to kill you; if you so much as move you'll feel my baton all over your body, you animal,'" she is quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying.

Poland, US and the EU are among those who have condemned the crackdown. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) says the vote and counting of results last Sunday was "flawed". (pg)



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