Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 214

Belarusan agriculture minister Vasyl Lyavonav and farm amalgamation director Vasyl Staravoitav were arrested by the KGB on November 10, and were pronounced guilty of corruption yesterday by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and state radio and television. Lyavonav, who hails from Lukashenka’s Mohilyav region, last week described the country’s general economic situation as "deplorable" and specifically criticized the artificially high exchange rate of the Belarusan ruble, which is dictated by Lukashenka to the National Bank.

Staravoitav, 73, a celebrity in Belarus and twice a Hero of Socialist Labor, had also worked for many years in the Mohilyav region. While there his career eclipsed that of Lukashenka, who headed a state farm in the region before winning the presidency. Lukashenka publicly accused Staravoitav of incompetence last month and had two of his relatives arrested on corruption charges. Staravoitav may have precipitated his arrest by publicly appealing last week to Russian president Boris Yeltsin to intercede in his defense "as in the case of Pavel Sheremet." The Kremlin has not reacted, and Lukashenka may have wanted to make an example of Staravoitav after that gesture. (Russian agencies, Belapan, November 11-12)

UN Human Rights Body Issues Devastating Findings on Belarus.