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'Fleeing' Belarusian Opposition Figure Says Doing Fine


WATCH: Former Belarusian presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevich says he was subbjected to torture at a detention center run by the state security service (KGB). Video by RFE/RL's Belarus Service

A former Belarusian opposition presidential candidate who apparently fled Belarus this week in defiance of an order barring him from leaving town has sent an audio message saying he is out of the country and doing well, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Ales Mikhalevich, who opposed President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the December 19 election, wrote on his blog on March 14 that he is "in a zone that is not accessible for the Belarusian KGB."

Since then there has been no word on the whereabouts of Mikhalevich, who claimed last month that he was tortured in jail in the postelection crackdown.

But in a short audio message posted on the website of the opposition movement For Freedom today, Mikhalevich said he is doing well and will make a video address soon:

"I am Ales Mikhalevich. I am doing okay. I am currently beyond Belarusian borders. I know that in Live Journal and Bypolitics, and in the entire Internet in general, there are a lot of comments saying that nobody has heard my voice these days. Today, I have talked with [opposition politician] Yuras Hubarevich. And in the coming week, I am planning to make a video address."

Hubarevich, the deputy chairman of the For Freedom movement, told RFE/RL that he was able to have a short conversation with Mikhalevich late in the night on March 15 via Skype.

According to Hubarevich, Mikhalevich did not specify his whereabouts.

Mikhalevich's wife, Milana, told RFE/RL on March 14 that her husband has left Belarus.

Last month, Mikhalevich compared the KGB pretrial detention center where he was held for two months to a concentration camp, saying he was subjected to torture there.

He also said that he had to sign an agreement on collaborating with the KGB in order to secure his release from the detention center on February 19.

Mikhalevich and several other opposition presidential candidates, along with hundreds of their supporters, were arrested on December 19-20 while protesting the results of the presidential election, which they say was rigged.

Incumbent Lukashenka was announced the runaway winner of the vote, which international election monitors said was flawed.

Two other former presidential candidates -- Andrey Sannikau and Mikalay Statkevich -- remain in custody. A third, Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu, is under house arrest. All have been charged with organizing mass disturbances.

Read in Belarusian here
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