Belarus KGB says it foiled 'coup'

MINSK, Belarus, March 2 (UPI) -- The Belarus KGB has claimed it prevented a coup that the opposition had planned to coincide with March 19 presidential elections.

KGB Chairman Stepan Sukhorenko told a news conference Wednesday that the opposition had intended to gather several thousand people in the capital, Minsk, after the election results were announced and then set off an explosion.

Following this, Sukhorenko alleged, the opposition planned to declare the election invalid, seize government buildings and railway stations, and block railroads, RIA Novosti reported.

Several Belarusian non-governmental organizations, as well as militants from Ukraine, Georgia and former Yugoslavia, could have been brought into the coup, the spymaster said.

However, he said, the plotters would be unlikely to attempt a coup now that their plans had been made public.

"We know both the organizers and perpetrators," he said, adding that they would be arrested if they attempted to carry out their plan.

Alexander Milinkevich, the leading opposition candidate running against incumbent Alexander Lukashenko -- called "Europe's last dictator" by the Western media -- has said: "The elections are being held under total falsification and persecution of the opposition. We are taking part in this political campaign in order to destroy the fear that reigns in our society."