TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — A prominent Belarusian dissident author who lives abroad said Thursday that his father was arrested on unclear grounds after police broke into his parents’ apartment.
The seven police officers, armed with automatic weapons, also took electronics and data files from the Minsk apartment, said Sasha Filipenko. His father was taken away for detention, but no charges were immediately stated.
The arrest appeared to be connected with the relentless crackdown on opposition by the government of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko for the past three years.
The crackdown started after a wave of protests that arose in August 2020 following a disputed presidential election in which Lukashenko was declared the winner, giving him a sixth term in office.
The protests lasted for months, the largest and most prolonged show of dissent since Lukashenko came to power in 1994 and began repressing independent news media and opposition.
Filipenko, a popular novelist, became one of Lukashenko’s most prominent critics.
Lukashenko unleashed harsh measures against the protesters, with police detaining around 35,000 people and beating thousands. Many major opposition figures fled the country, including Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who ran against him in the election. Others have been jailed, such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski, founder of the human rights group Viasna.