MINSK — Police in Belarus have reportedly detained the chairman of opposition Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) party, Ryhor Kastusyou, amid an ongoing crackdown on dissent following a disputed presidential election that handed victory to strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
According to Kastusyou’s relatives, the politician was detained on unspecified charges in the eastern city of Shklou on April 12 and transported to Minsk.
There has been no official announcement by authorities on Kastusyou’s detainment so far.
Lukashenka, who has ruled the country since 1994, was declared the winner in the August 2020 election, which was widely viewed as rigged in his favor.
Thousands of citizens have since taken to the streets to protest the results, saying Lukashenka’s challenger, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, actually won the election.
Tsikhanouskaya left Belarus for Lithuania after the election for security reasons, while Lukashenka has directed a brutal postelection crackdown in which almost 30,000 have been detained, hundreds beaten, several killed, and journalists targeted in the action.
Many other senior opposition figures have also left, or were forced to leave Belarus, fearing for their safety, while several of those who haven’t left have been detained by security officials.