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Belarus Activist Arrested In Warsaw, Released


Ales Mikhalevich walks to KGB offices in Minsk for questioning in March, three months after his challenge in the tainted Belarusian presidential election.
Belarusian political exile and former presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevich has been arested at an airport in Warsaw and then released.

Belarusian Internet-based media outlets suggest that Mikhalevich was arrested based on an Interpol warrant issued by Belarusian authorities.

Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Marcin Bosacki said Mikhalevich's arrest was "a mistake by prosecutors who believed in the arrest warrant" and called the charges against him "absurd."

A border police spokesperson said Mikhalevich had been detained to "answer further questions."

Mikhalevich was released after Deputy Foreign Minister Krzysztof Stanowski went to the airport in person to negotiate his release.

The arrest is potentially embarrassing for the Polish government, one of authoritarian Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's staunchest critics.

Mikhalevich was among other 2010 presidential candidates arrested and charged with organizing mass riots in the wake of the disputed vote and subsequent crackdown against postelection protests.

After his release from custody, Mikhalevich said he had been tortured at the KGB pretrial detention center and that he refused to cooperate with the intelligence agency.

He then fled to the Czech Republic, where he was granted political asylum. Belarusian prosecutors have put Mikhalevich on the international wanted list.

Meanwhile, a Belarusian deputy interior minister who took a leading role in the postelection crackdown on the opposition has been arrested for what officials suggest is possible abuse of office, according to RFE/RL's Belarus Service.

compiled from agency reports