Former Belarusian Dissident Lawmaker Arrested

Prague, 16 May 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Syarhey Skrabets, a member of the dissident Respublika group in Belarus's Chamber of Representatives from 2000-04, was arrested in Minsk on 15 May by men who introduced themselves as officers of a department for combating organized crime, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reported, citing Skrabets's wife.

Skrabets is reportedly suspected of giving a $30,000 bribe to an official in Brest, southwestern Belarus. Skrabets was transferred from Minsk to Brest on the same day, and searches were conducted in both his and his parents' apartment.

Belarusian television reported on 17 April that Belarus's law-enforcement agencies have detained a Lithuanian citizen who reportedly delivered $200,000 to finance Skrabets's political activities. Skrabets later said that the report was stage-managed by the KGB to embroil him into a trumped-up criminal case.

In October 2004, Skrabets asked Moscow for asylum, arguing that he was threatened with imprisonment for opposing Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's regime. The Russian presidential administration has reportedly denied political asylum to him, saying that Russia does not offer asylum to citizens of countries with which it has no border or visa controls.