News / Europe

Belarus Gets New Prime Minister Amid Growing Criticism

Russian opposition leader and former Vice-Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov stages a protest in front of the Belarus embassy in Moscow in support of journalists arrested in Belarus, on December 27, 2010.
Russian opposition leader and former Vice-Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov stages a protest in front of the Belarus embassy in Moscow in support of journalists arrested in Belarus, on December 27, 2010.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday gathered together new political allies in the face of Western criticism of his government's assault on opposition figures and independent journalists.

Mr. Lukashenko decided to replace his long-serving prime minister with Mikhail Myasnikovich, whom he described to local media as a "flexible person." He also named four new deputy ministers.

The appointments follow Mr. Lukashenko's controversial victory at the polls on December 19. Since then, the government has detained hundreds of opponents, including opposition candidates.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists on Monday accused the Lukashenko government of "unjust detentions, raids and seizures" on independent and pro-opposition news media.

The CPJ said at least 20 independent and opposition journalists reporting on the election have been jailed.

The opposition website Charter 97 quoted a  witness Tuesday as saying that editor Natalya Radzina, who was beaten and arrested last week by security police, was still bleeding from her ears Tuesday in a Minsk jail cell.  

There has been no official comment on her condition.

Radzina is reported to be facing charges of organizing post-election riots, in which thousands of protesters rallied against election results they insist were rigged to favor Mr. Lukashenko.

International observers and Western leaders have cited allegations of fraudulent vote counting in the December 19 polls, and have criticized the government for violently repressing the protests.

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