Belarus Opposition Leader Held by Police After EU Summit

Posted October 1st, 2011 at 4:10 pm (UTC-5)
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One of the leading opposition figures in Belarus says that police summoned him after he attended a European Union summit in Poland to strengthen ties with former Soviet states.

Anatoly Lebedko says plain clothes police tried to detain him in Minsk Saturday morning, but that he resisted. He says he agreed to go to a police station where his passport was confiscated, and he was then released.

Warsaw hosted a two-day summit Thursday and Friday aimed at bringing EU's eastern neighbors closer to the 27-nation bloc.

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko was not invited. His government is under EU and U.S. sanctions for cracking down on opposition and government critics, especially in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election in December.

Mr. Lukashenko has ruled his country for the past 17 years.

EU leaders attending the Warsaw summit called on Belarus to free political prisoners and end the repression of civil society and media.

Early Friday, Belarussian authorities transferred politician and human rights activist Andrei Sannikov from Mogilyov prison to the Bobruisk penal colony. Sannikov, who ran in the December presidential poll, was arrested during a peaceful post-election protest in Minsk. In May, he was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of organizing mass disturbances.