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Belarus: KGB Raids Office Of Russian TV Station

Minsk, 28 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Officials from Russia's ORT television disclosed today that Belarus security officials have searched their Minsk offices. The search yesterday came one day after a three-person ORT crew was taken into custody by Belarusian authorities.

The Belarus news agency BelaPAN today quotes Dmitry Novozhilov as saying the search lasted for more than two hours. He said the Belarus KGB confiscated items belonging to ORT reporter Pavel Sheremet, including his passport.

Sheremet along with his cameraman and driver were taken into custody by the KGB Saturday. BelaPAN says Belarus officials are charging them with illegally attempting to cross the Belarusian border from Lithuania. Earlier, Belarus authorities had revoked Sheremet's press accreditation after accusing him of biased reporting.

Meanwhile, an official from Belarus' opposition Popular Front says authorities in Minsk have arrested about 20 people after a rally yesterday protesting the autocratic leadership of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Popular Front secretary Vyachasluv Siuchuk told RFE/RL that the opposition's deputy leader, Stanisluv Husak, was among those arrested. Siuchuk said Husak is scheduled to appear in court later today.

About 10,000 protesters yesterday chanted anti-Lukashenka slogans and burned Soviet-era flags to mark the anniversary of Belarus' independence from the Soviet Union.