BELARUS. KGB CHIEF THREATENS DEATH SENTENCE FOR POLL PROTESTERS
March 16, 2006: opposition supporters in Belarus were warned that they could face the death penalty if they took part in a protest after the presidential election on March 19. Stepan Sukhorenko, head of the KGB secret service, accused the Opposition of planning to use the rally to stage a coup against Aleksander Lukashenko, the President, who had ruled the former Soviet republic since 1994.
"We will not allow the seizure of power under the guise of presidential elections," Sukhorenko told a news conference.
"For those who take the risk of going out into the street and try to destabilise the situation, their actions will be qualified as terrorism" â a crime, he added, that can result in life in prison or the death penalty.
Lukashenkoâs main rival, Aleksander Milinkevich, said the results had already been decided and was urging his supporters to rally in Minsk on March 19 evening.
Milinkevichâs aides accused the KGB chief of using "scare tactics" and trying to justify the use of violence against protesters. "This is absurd and nothing more than the agony of people trying to cling to power," said Anatoly Lebedko, a senior official in Milinkevichâs campaign who was detained during the week. "Thousands of people will take to the streets because they cannot be denied a right to choose," he predicted. (Sources: Times Online, 17/03/2006)