Belarus detains anti-Lukashenko former presidential candidate

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By Euronews  with Reuters
Andrei Dmitriev, 2020
Andrei Dmitriev, 2020   -   Copyright  Wikimedia Commons, Белая Манта

An opposition politician who stood against long-time Belarus strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko in the controversial 2020 presidential election has been detained in the capital Minsk, his team said.

Andrey Dzmitryeu, 41, is a campaigner and vocal critic of the Belarusian president, who currently co-chairs the anti-Minsk regime Tell the Truth party. 

He was detained on Wednesday, according to a message posted on his Facebook page. The reason for his custody was not yet known, it added.

Belarus authorities have not yet commented on the detention.

Lukashenko, the country’s first and only president since the office was established in 1994, claimed victory in the 2020 election, which was marred by allegations of voter fraud and repression of opposition forces.

Upon announcing his victory over leading opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, hundreds of thousands of Belarusians took to the streets in protest, urging Lukashenko to step aside.

Dzmitryeu came fourth in the election with 1.2% of votes cast, the official results showed.

Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, violently suppressed the protests and has since used draconian means to silence domestic political opposition.

Putin has since used Belarus as a launching pad for his late February full-scale invasion of Ukraine, while Lukashenko has been said to have been mulling entering the war on the side of Moscow since then.

Rights groups estimate there are about 1,500 political prisoners in Belarus — ranked as Europe’s worst authoritarian regime — due to the crackdown.