Belarus terror probe widens into crackdown on opposition
Authorities say three suspects admitted involvement in Monday's bombing, but they are still searching for the group behind the blast in an investigation targeting Belarus's opposition groups.
Belarussian authorities said Wednesday that they have caught and extracted confessions from three people accused of detonating a powerful bomb that killed 12 people and injured more than 200 in a Minsk metro station Monday.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been Belarus's undisputed leader for the past 17 years, took to the airwaves after the arrests to announce that he has ordered security services to spread an even wider net as part of an investigation that is already leading to widespread crackdowns on opposition groups.
The head of Belarus's KGB security service, Vadim Zaitsev, said one of the suspects had confessed to planting the remote-controlled device, and the other two admitted to involvement in the plot. Their identity or whether authorities are aware of any motive has not been released. The main suspect, said Mr. Zaitsev, is a young man who is "not only unhealthy in his psychological state, but also unhealthy in his ambitions."
Human rights activists in Belarus were reporting Wednesday that several opposition politicians had already been summoned for questioning by the KGB in connection with the bombing.
Mr. Lukashenko said the aim of the crackdown is to catch not only the "fifth column" opposition members who he implied had ordered the attack, but also anyone spreading unspecified "rumors" about the terrorist attack, those who foment protests over food prices or currency devaluations, and people possessing unregistered firearms.
"Today the crime was solved," Lukashenko said. "The most important thing is that we know how and by whom the terrorist attack was committed," although the suspects – two of whom are factory workers – have not yet divulged the names of any accomplices, he said.
"I have given instructions to review all statements by [opposition] political leaders," Lukashenko continued. "We are looking for accomplices and those who ordered [the act]. These figures from the so-called fifth column may reveal their cards and indicate who ordered it.... Everyone should be brought in and questioned, and we shouldn't worry our heads with any questions of democracy, or the moaning and wailing of foreign bleeding hearts."