Image by Kremlin.ru
Belarus Opposition figure Nikolai Statkevich was arrested in the capital of Minsk, reported his wife, and taken to jail to serve a 15 day sentence for protesting the upcoming ‘Zapad’ military exercise with Russia to be held inside ‘White Rus’.
“Marina Adamovich said Statkevich, a former presidential candidate, was detained midday Saturday in the capital of Minsk. He had been sentenced in absentia about two weeks ago on charges of organizing a demonstration in July against the massive military exercises that are planned for next month with Russia,” wrote Associated Press.
Called ‘The Last Dictator in Europe, the leader of Belarus, Alexandre Lukashenko has ruled with an iron fist while at the same time attempting to push his country closer to the European Union. The situation is striking because Belarus is the other half of ‘The Union State,’ a loose political union with Russia created after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Moscow has pushed for closer military cooperation with Belarus, even pressuring Lukashenko for a Russian air base to be established there. Lukashenko has so far refused this ‘request’ but the upcoming, massive Zapad exercises will be a test of how far Moscow allows Belarus to stray.
NATO has expressed its concern over the exercise, mainly worried about military equipment being ‘prepositioned’ there for possible future use.