More than 200 arrests made after crackdown in Belarus

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The authoritarian power apparatus in Belarus has again arrested more than 200 dissidents for allegedly making statements critical of the government.

They are being investigated for negative comments on social networks following a raid by the KGB secret service, Interior Minister Ivan Kubrakov said in the city of Brest on Thursday, according to state agency Belta.

“They wrote all sorts of nasty things in Telegram channels in the hope that no one would find them under their nicknames.” These allegedly include calls for protests, the minister claimed.

The background is a KGB search of an IT specialist in the capital Minsk more than a week ago. The IT specialist, who was considered to be part of the opposition, shot and killed an investigator. He himself was also killed.

Among those arrested is a journalist from the offshoot of the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda. He had reported on the case. The newspaper has closed its editorial office in neighbouring Belarus as a consequence of the investigation.

The human rights group Viasna recognized 73 of those arrested as political prisoners. The total number of people imprisoned for political reasons had thus risen to more than 800.

In the former Soviet republic, there were mass protests against ruler Alexander Lukashenko after the presidential election of August last year, which was considered to be rigged, especially in the West. Since then, Lukashenko has been cracking down on dissidents and independent media.

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