MINSK – Belarusian strong man Alyaksandr Lukashenka swore to punish those who criticized a security officer who the authorities say was killed in a shooting while raiding a private apartment in Minsk on September 28.
The State Security Committee (KGB) official identified as Dzmitry Fedasyuk was buried on October 1.
The Belarusian authorities previously claimed that “a particularly dangerous criminal” opened fire on security officers after they were killed on Aug.
The resident of the apartment, later identified as Andrey Zeltsar, an employee of the US IT company EPAM Systems, was killed in the subsequent shooting with officials, authorities alleged.
Lukashenka said on October 1st that for those who praised Zeltsar and criticized both Fedasyuk and the government, it was “too late” to remove their posts from social networks because “we all have and can see their accounts, who is who “.
The exiled presidential candidate Valer Tsapkala previously wrote on social networks that Zeltsar is an example for all Belarusians of how to resist Lukashenka’s repressive regime.
“Akrestsina is vacant,” said Lukashenka, referring to the notorious Akrestsina internment camp in Minsk, where many inmates said they were tortured. “And villains like Tsapkala think we won’t get them, but they’re wrong. We won’t forgive this guy’s death.”
The Vyasna (Spring) Human Rights Center in Minsk said on October 1st that almost 90 people were arrested in Minsk and several other cities after the incident.
Vyasna said the arrests were accompanied by comments on social media about the incident. Those arrested face charges of insulting government officials and inciting social hatred, punishable by up to 12 years in prison.
Belarus was gripped by protests last year after an August presidential election – which the opposition and the West say had been rigged – gave Lukashenka a sixth consecutive term.
In response, the government cracked down on the pro-democracy movement, arrested thousands of people and pushed most of the opposition leaders out of the country.
On October 1, the Supreme Court of Belarus the liquidation ordered of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the oldest human rights organization in Belarus.
According to Vyasna, 130 non-governmental organizations have been forcibly closed in the past three months.