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Fired Belarusian Official: 'We Are Not Free'

MINSK -- The former governor of Minsk Oblast, Barys Batura, says he is ready to be arrested after angering President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

On November 8, Lukashenka publicly removed Batura from his post while the two of them toured a state-owned timber plant in the city of Barysau.

Lukashenka, who was unhappy with the conditions at the plant, threatened a criminal probe against Batura unless he took over as director of the plant and rectified the situation by spring.

Batura told RFE/RL's Belarus Service on November 11 that he has no plans to work at the facility, saying, "Let them arrest me. We are not free people anyway and we feel bad about it."

Lukashenka has been criticized by human rights organizations for his authoritarian rule.