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Ex-Belarusian Presidential Candidate Says Family 'Under Pressure'

Ryhor Kastusyou

Ryhor Kastusyou

MINSK -- Former Belarusian presidential candidate Ryhor Kastusyou says the authorities are doing everything to "turn my family into beggars," RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Kastusyou told RFE/RL today that his daughter, Katsiaryna Kastusyova, lost her job this week. The school where she worked as a music teacher refused to prolong her work contract. Kastusyou said it was a politically motivated decision as his daughter was a member of his campaign team for the presidential election in December.

"My daughter graduated from high school with distinction. She successfully graduated from a music school and music academy and has worked in children's art schools for two years now," Kastusyou said.

He said his daughter's contract was not prolonged only because she is an active member of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front party.

A representative of the school where Kastusyova taught told RFE/RL the decision not to renew her contract was made based on her professional abilities and had nothing to do with politics.

Kastusyou said that he himself lost his job as director of the Maintenance Directorate in the eastern town of Shklou in 2001 because of his political activities.

"My eldest daughter lost her teaching job after the parliamentary elections in 2008 after working [at her job] successfully for three years," he said. "My son started having problems with his studies at a university in Minsk and had to leave for Gdansk, Poland, where he now is studying at Gdansk University without any problems. I am certain that my family members are paying the price for my political views."

Kastusyou is not allowed to leave Belarus as he is suspected of organizing mass disturbances in Minsk on December 19.

He was arrested on December 20, one day after some 15,000 people took part in antigovernment demonstrations to protest the announcement of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's reelection. He was later released from jail but ordered not to leave Minsk until the investigation was completed.

Kastusyou said he is not able to earn any money to provide for his family, as his company is registered in St. Petersburg and he is not able to travel there.

"My whole family is under pressure. We are doing everything to make ends meet, and I assure you that is not a pleasant situation," he said.

Read more in Belarusian here