Ales Mikhalevich arrested on return to Belarus

Former presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevich was taken off a train and arrested by Belarusian border guards early on September 8 as he was traveling to Minsk from Vilnius in a surprise return to the country.

Former presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevich was taken off a train and arrested by Belarusian border guards early on September 8 as he was traveling to Minsk from Vilnius in a surprise return to the country after more than four years of self-imposed exile.


Ales Mikhalevich boards a Minsk-bound train in Vilnius

Hours before his return to Belarus, the opposition politician wrote on Facebook that he planned to travel to Minsk by train but predicted that he would be apprehended at the border.

"I said many times that I would return to Belarus after major political prisoners were released (I was thinking about Byalyatski and Statkevich)," the 40-year-old Mikhalevich wrote. "They are free. I will cross the Belarusian border and know that I will be arrested as I'm the last remaining person accused in the 2010 mass disorder case that the Investigative Committee has refused to drop."

In March 2011, Mr. Mikhalevich fled Belarus to Prague in fear of prosecution in connection with the December 19, 2010 post-election protest in Minsk; he was granted political asylum in the Czech Republic later that month.

After the December 19, 2010 demonstration, Mr. Mikhalevich was put in the detention center of the Committee for State Security (KGB) and charged in a mass disorder case. He was released on his own recognizance after spending two months in the detention center.

The ex-candidate later told reporters that the conditions in the KGB jail were tantamount to torture and forced him to promise the KGB to act as its informant.