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    Human rights activist held in Belarus over metro bomb blast

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    A human rights advocacy group in Belarus has said that one of its members has been detained by police in connection with the April 11 deadly blast at a metro station in the capital, Minsk.

    A human rights advocacy group in Belarus has said that one of its members has been detained by police in connection with the April 11 deadly blast at a metro station in the capital, Minsk.

    The Belarusian Helsinki Committee said Pavel Levinov, 50, was arrested on Monday and is being held for questioning for ten days. Three other journalists and human rights campaigners were also briefly detained. Police have not yet confirmed the report.

    Opposition figures in Belarus had previously said they believed the metro blast - which killed at least 13 - would be used as an excuse for a crackdown on dissent in the former Soviet republic.

    In the immediate aftermath of the blast, President Alexander Lukashenko ordered the KGB - as the security forces are still known in Belarus -to “turn the country upside down” to find those responsible. While he did not rule out foreign involvement, he also dropped strong hints that opposition forces were to blame.

    Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994, won a new term of office in disputed polls in December. Dozens of opposition figures, including rival candidates, were arrested after violent protests in Minsk following the announcement of the result.

    There has been virtually no terrorist violence in Belarus during Lukashenko's 17-year rule and the blast came as the country braced itself for a devaluation of its national currency.

    MINSK, April 20 (RIA Novosti)

     

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