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Belarusian Presidential Campaigner's Sister Briefly Detained For Questioning

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Veranika Tsapkala

MINSK -- A sister of Veranika Tsapkala, the wife of former potential presidential candidate Valer Tsapkala, says she was briefly detained for questioning after she disappeared, raising fears she had been kidnapped.

Natallya Leanyuk said on July 30 that she was approached by three men in civilian clothes near Belgazprombank where she works earlier in the day and presented with a subpoena ordering her to come in for questioning.

The men then took her to the police where she was questioned regarding a probe launched against Valer Tsapkala after a Turkish businessman, Sedat Igdeci filed a lawsuit against the politician accusing him of bribery and insult.

Valer Tsapkala had to flee the country with his children for safety reasons earlier this month.

Leanyuk says she was released by the police after the questioning.

Leanyuk's employer, Belgazprombank, used to be led by Viktar Babaryka, who was arrested and charged with embezzlement last month after he announced his intention to take part in an August 9 presidential election.

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Earlier in the day, Veranika Tsapkala, who remained in Belarus to assist an opposition candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya's campaign, said her sister was "kidnapped" by unknown men in civilian clothes.

Tsapkala also said that she had been summoned to the Directorate on the Fight Against Organized Crime for what she said was to "testify against my husband."

"I consider this as political pressure imposed on me, my husband, and on our election campaign," Tsapkala said.

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