4 arrested in Belarus bomb attack probe: report


MINSK, Belarus - Four people have been arrested in connection with a bomb attack in Belarus last week that wounded dozens of people, state television reported on Wednesday.

"Four people have been detained," the report quoted Igor Kuznetsov, head of the KGB secret service in the Belarusian capital Minsk, as saying.

"These include people who belong to an unregistered destructive organization and people with experience in using explosives," the report said.

The explosion of a home-made bomb filled with bolts and screws injured dozens of people in the early hours of Friday morning at an outdoor concert attended by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

The concert was held to commemorate Belarusian Independence Day on July 3. The authorities said Saturday that they had found a second explosive device at the concert that had failed to detonate.

The arrests came after opposition forces urged the authoritarian Lukashenko not to use the bomb attack as a justification to crack down on his opponents in a regime classified by Washington as "the last dictatorship in Europe."

The wife of one of the detainees and a human rights activist named the four as Sergei Chislov, Igor Korsak, Viktor Leshchinsky and Miroslav Lozovsky, all members of the White Legion, a nationalist youth group.

"All four of the detainees are members of the unregistered organization the White Legion," the youth wing of the outlawed Belarusian Union of Military Personnel, Lozovsky's wife Nina Shidlovskaya told AFP by telephone.

"They kept my husband until very late last night on the orders of the Minsk region KGB, then they handed him over to investigators in the capital," said Shidlovskaya, a former spokeswoman for opposition leader Alexander Kozulin.

The Belarusian Union of Military Personnel was formed in the last years of the Soviet Union and enforced public order at demonstrations in the early 1990s but was banned in 1996 after Lukashenko's rise to power.

Viktor Sheiman, the former head of the national security council, who was sacked by Lukashenko in the aftermath of the attack along with presidential administration chief Gennady Navyglas, was also a member of the organization.

Human rights activist Lyubov Luneva told AFP that Korsak has been in custody for the past three days.

"Igor lives with his stepmother. They found bolts, screws and rubber gloves in his apartment. The stepmother pointed out that all these things can be found in any apartment and that on July 3 the family had left the apartment for the countryside, got back late and did not go out again," Luneva said.

An activist with the Youth Front opposition organization, Nastya Azarka, told AFP that she had been questioned on Tuesday by the KGB. Six Belarusian opposition figures were questioned earlier in connection with the bombing.