Terrorist Network Uncovered in Minsk

Belarusian law-enforcement agencies, especially the KGB, have been looking hard for those guilty in the bombing at a concert in Minsk on July 4, the day after Belarusian Independence Day. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko criticized the agencies at the beginning of this week for their lack of results in the case and fired two top government officials, chief of his administration Gennady Nevyglas and secretary of the Belarusian Security Council Viktor Sheiman, which led to a sharp increase in active at the KGB and Interior Ministry.

The police have detained a resident of Vitebsk who allegedly posted information about the blast on a Russian website on July 8.The Belarusian KGB has detained four people in the case. The four have not been declared suspects yet, but the KGB states that they may belong to "unregistered destructive organizations." The detainees, Miroslav Lozovsky, Sergey Chislov, Igor Korsak and Viktor Leshchinsky, are being held without charges. In searches of their apartments, computers and record books were taken from Lozovsky and nuts, bolts and rubber gloves from Korsak.

The men came to the attention of the KGB because of their membership is the long-ago eradicated Belarusian Military Association and their current membership in the White Legion, a former Belarusian Military Association branch that concentrates on "the patriotic education of youth." Chislov is the leader of the group, although he has lived in Moscow for the last year. It is unknown how he ended up in custody in Minsk, although it is known that the Russian FSB has also become involved in the case. He attracted attention in 1996 by publicly speaking of the possibility of using violent methods to attain real independence for Belarus. Other than that the White Legion's activities have been limited to occasionally providing security for opposition actions. The recently dismissed Sheiman was once a Belarusian Military Association member.

Alexander Milinkevich, leader of the opposition movement For Freedom, commented, "I know the detainees well and say that they couldn't have done that. They did not train terrorists in the White Legion. They did sports and studies history and language. Any way, the organization has been dormant for the last five years." Imprisoned opposition leader Alexander Kozulin stated, "I suggest that professionals capable of planting explosives correctly in the enforcement agencies subordinate to Lukashenko. How could the security service allow Lukashenko come close to the place of the blast: unless Lukashenko knew that there would be no second blast?" There will be parliamentary elections in Belarus in September.