Opposition Leader Detained In Belarus

March 7, 2006 -- A top member of the opposition in Belarus was briefly detained and fined today just over a week before President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's bid for re-election.

Anatoly Lebedko, a veteran activist of Belarus's small liberal and nationalist opposition, is a senior figure in independent candidate Alexander Milinkevich's bid to unseat the president after 12 years in office.

Lebedko told Reuters by telephone that he had been taken in for questioning in Mogilyov, a town in eastern Belarus, on allegations of staging an illegal rally.

He said he was meeting voters in the street since local authorities refused to give the group a hall. He said between 250 and 200 people attended the meeting.

Lebedko said that after the meeting, police came up and ordered him to go to the station where he was accused of holding an illegal rally.

Lebdedko's spokeswoman, Yekaterina Tkachenko, later said a court had imposed a fine equivalent to $700 and released him.