Strike leader detained in Belarus as crackdown continues

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Belarus’ authorities on Monday detained the organizer of a strike at a high industrial plant, allotment of a methodical effort to stifle weeks of protests irritating the resignation of the nation’s authoritarian leader of 26 years after an election the opposition denounced as being rigged.

President Alexander Lukashenko has brushed off the protesters as Western puppets and rejected the European Union’s affords of mediation. After a ferocious crackdown on demonstrators within the most important days after the Aug. 9 vote that caused world outrage, his authorities has refrained from enormous-scale violence against demonstrators and sought to full the protests with threats and the selective jailing of activists.

Anatoly Bokun, who leads the strike committee at Belaruskali, a expansive potash factory in Soligorsk, became detained by police Monday and goes by a 15-day jail sentence on charges of organizing an unsanctioned exclaim. The factory, which accounts for a fifth of the arena’s potash fertilizer output, is the nation’s high money earner.

The Belaruskaili strike committee spokesman, Gleb Sandras, talked about authorities had managed to cease a strike on the factory that started two weeks within the past and all its potash mines are now working.

He talked about that agents of Belarus’ Verbalize Security Committee, which composed goes by the Soviet-generation name KGB, had compelled workers to full the labor action.

“KGB agents fill inundated the factory, monitoring down the most filled with life workers and the utilization of various manner of strain,” Sandras told The Associated Press in a mobile phone interview. “The authorities fill powerful financial instruments. They are blackmailing workers with mass dismissals.”

Strikes at Belaruskali and heaps of alternative leading industrial flowers fill solid an unprecedented keep to Lukashenko, who has saved nearly all of the economy in explain palms and relied on blue-collar workers as his predominant make stronger sinful.

Belarus Deputy Top Minister Yuri Nazarov acknowledged Monday that the strikes posed a remark, but talked about that every one predominant industrial flowers fill resumed accepted operations.

Bokun’s detention follows the arrests of strike leaders at two other predominant industrial flowers in Minsk last week. The organizer of a strike on the Grodno Azot, a predominant producer of nitrogen fertilizers, fled to neighboring Poland to flee detention.

Looking out out to stem the protests, Belarusian prosecutors fill opened a prison probe against the opposition Coordination Council created to barter a transition of energy, accusing its individuals of undermining the nation’s security. Final week, Belarusian courts handed 10-day jail sentences to 2 council individuals and summoned several others for questioning, including Svetlana Alexievich, who gained the 2015 Nobel Prize in literature.

The U.S. and the European Union fill criticized the Aug. 9 election that prolonged Lukashenko’s rule as neither free nor honest and urged Belarusian authorities to steal in a dialogue with the opposition — calls the 66-365 days-used Belarusian leader has rejected.

In a uncover to acquire time and to assuage simmering discontent, Lukashenko touted the probability of a vaguely-described constitutional reform that would gaze a unique presidential election at an unspecified time. On Monday, he bluntly brushed off the opposition push for restoring the nation’s earlier structure, which envisaged enormous parliamentary powers.

Following a fierce clampdown on composed demonstrators within the days after the vote that left nearly 7,000 of us detained, hundreds injured by police rubber bullets, stun grenades and beatings and no longer less than three protesters boring, police let the demonstrations depart unhindered for the next two weeks, but last week all another time cranked up the strain on demonstrators and started dispersing rallies.

The Belarusian authorities furthermore cracked down exhausting on the news media, deporting some foreign journalists from the nation and revoking the accreditation of many Belarusian journalists. Two Moscow-based entirely Associated Press journalists who were retaining the most new protests in Belarus were deported to Russia on Saturday. Besides, the AP’s Belarusian journalists were told by the authorities that their press credentials had been revoked.

The Belarusian Affiliation of Journalists talked about over the weekend that accreditation rights were furthermore taken away from 17 Belarusians working for several other media, including Germany’s ARD television, the BBC, Reuters, AFP, and U.S.-funded radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty talked about 5 of its journalists lost their accreditation.

The U.S. and the EU officials fill strongly condemned the media crackdown.

The detention of hundreds of demonstrators last week didn’t deter the opposition from mounting one other massive rally on Sunday, which saw an estimated 100,000 flood the streets of the Belarusian capital amid a heavy police presence.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, hailed the protesters’ courage and urged Lukashenko on Monday to “gaze the truth within the nation — there needs to be an originate dialogue between the management, opposition forces and all of Belarusian society to declare about a composed resolution to this fresh crisis.”

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Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, and Geir Moulson in Berlin, contributed to this file.

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Practice AP’s protection of Belarus at https://www.apnews.com/Belarus

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