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Assistant To Belarusian Leader's Son Denies She Left Job Over Police Brutality, Father's Arrest

Dzmitry Lukashenka (second from left) attends Victory Day celebrations in Minsk in May 2019 with his father (right) and brothers.
Dzmitry Lukashenka (second from left) attends Victory Day celebrations in Minsk in May 2019 with his father (right) and brothers.

The assistant to the son of authoritarian Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka has denied speculative reports she left her job because of anger over police brutality against protesters, including the arrest of her father.

Ksenia Valakhanovich confirmed on her Facebook page on September 21 that she was no longer employed as the assistant to Dzmitry Lukashenka, the head of the Presidential Sports Club of Belarus and 40-year-old son of the Belarusian leader.

However, she said she made the decision to leave before the August 9 election that sparked mass protests against Lukashenka's rule because she wanted to pursue art.

"I understood that I could not fully devote myself to my passion when I'm busy with other things from 9 to 18," she said in her post.

Valakhanovich's post was prompted by a news report earlier in that day that pointed out her departure came as she began posting comments on Facebook against police brutality and in support of the protesters.

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets across Belarus to protest the August 9 vote that handed Lukashenka another five-year term. The protesters claim the vote was rigged in Lukashenka's favor and have called on him to step down.

Lukashenka, who has ruled the country with an iron hand since 1994, has sought to crush the biggest protest movement of his reign with mass arrests and torture.

He has called the protesters "rats" and has described as a betrayal those former insiders who have joined the protest movement.

Valakhanovich posted photos of herself at the rallies holding the red-and-white flag of the protest movement banned by Lukashenka while the texts accompanying the photos often criticized the authorities for the brutal crackdown on citizens.

"Thousands of victims and not one opened criminal case in connection with the violence so far," she posted on September 16.

Days earlier, she shared a post by her father about how he was detained by police.

However, she tried to downplay the connection between her Facebook posts and her departure from the Presidential Sports Club.

She said that her father had been detained more than a month after her departure from her job and spoke favorably of her former boss.

"I can't say anything other than words of thankfulness. This is a decent and truly kind person," she said of Dzmitry Lukashenka.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Belarus Service and
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