Belarus police raid independent paper

Authorities in Belarus searched the offices of a popular independent newspaper as the government pressed on with a crackdown against the opposition after disputed elections, its editor said Wednesday.

They searched the editorial offices of independent newspaper Nasha Niva taking computers, disks, and memory cards, editor Andrei Skurko said.

The search on Tuesday evening was followed by a search of Skurko's personal flat, where KGB security service officers "went through everything, including clothing," and also took away computer equipment, Skurko told Agence France-Presse.

Nasha Niva, a popular independent weekly published in Belarusian, lost 12 computers, as well as memory cards, CDs and old issues in the search. The officers were interested in "video footage of the events on December 19," Skurko said.

Police and the KGB have raided dozens of homes and offices of opposition media and activists in recent days after tens of thousands of Belarusians protested the presidential elections on Dec. 19 in Minsk.

Over 600 people, including five presidential candidates, were arrested after riot police broke up the protest to strong criticism from the United States and several European states.

Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the former Soviet state for 16 years, secured a fourth term as president for the next five years with nearly 80 percent of the vote, but critics said the elections were not democratic.

The paper's activities may be disrupted after losing computer equipment, Skurko said.


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