In the wake of the March 10 mass protests in Minsk against a merger of Belarus with Russia (see Monitor, March 11), police have arrested scores of real or alleged participants who now face heavy fines or up to 15 days imprisonment. The police yesterday searched the offices of the Popular Front and the United Civic Party, and Social-Democrat leader Uladzimir Statkevich appeared at a news conference showing marks of beatings he suffered while in police custody.
Syamyon Sharetsky and Henadz Karpenka, leaders of the forcibly dissolved parliament — which continues to be recognized by the OSCE and the Council of Europe — seconded protests and predictions by Popular Front leaders that President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s regime faces a "hot political spring" of demonstrations for democracy and national independence. Sharetsky also warned that the legitimate parliamentary leadership might appeal to the United Nations "if Russian interference continues" in Belarus. (Reuter, NTV, Interfax, March 11-12)
Ukraine Moves Another Step Closer to NATO.