Statkevich links his release to authorities' fear of falling-out with West
Prominent opposition politician Mikalay Statkevich suggested on Monday that he may have been released because the Belarusian authorities tried to avoid angering the West too much.
Speaking to reporters on Monday shortly after being released from the detention center of the Committee for State Security (KGB), Mr. Statkevich said that he had gone into hiding to avoid arrest ahead of a March 25 demonstration in Minsk. However, the politician was arrested by KGB officers late on March 23 in an apartment belonging to his associate's wife. According to him, the officers used a key to open the apartment's door.
Mr. Statkevich was taken to the KGB detention center, where an officer informed him that he was a suspect in a mass riot case linked to Alyaksandr Lukashenka's remarks about the arrest of foreign-trained "armed militants."
The arrest report drawn up by the KGB claimed that Mr. Statkevich had been preparing mass riots since 2011. In fact, Mr. Statkevich was in prison between December 2010 and August 2015.
Mr. Statkevich spent three days in solitary confinement in the KGB jail. On Monday morning, he was led out of the cell and told that he would be taken out of the jail for "investigative activities." The politician was then put into a vehicle and dropped off in Sokal, a town some 20 kilometers east of Minsk. He was given back his belongings but received no papers relating to his arrest.
Mr. Statkevich said that his arrest was an attempt to discredit him in the eyes of his supporters. The politician had pledged to lead the March 25 demonstration and urged the public to take part. The demonstration was eventually suppressed by police and hundreds of people were arrested.