Lukashenko nears crunch time, says Belarus opposition

Wed Jul 6, 2011 7:54am EDT
 
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"If a miracle does not happen and money does not appear, then there will be a social explosion in autumn. The money that people have accumulated will be gone by October-November. The state will not be able to fulfill its social obligations and that will lead to social explosions," said Neklyayev.

"I don't envy Lukashenko in this situation. He is virtually cornered. In order to avoid an explosion he has to go ahead and reform. Economic reforms are not possible without political reform and political reform will lead to him losing power," he said.

Neklyayev and several other opposition figures ran for president last December and won only a tiny share of the vote in an election which gave Lukashenko 80 percent of the votes and was denounced as flawed in the West.

Some of them are now serving jail sentences for their part in protests against him. These include Andrei Sannikov, a former deputy foreign minister and co-founder of the Charter-97 rights organization, who is regarded as the most influential figure in the opposition. He is serving a five-year jail sentence.

Neklyayev was given a two-year suspended sentence. In the interview he dismissed a suggestion that he might be violating the terms of his sentence by some of his comments.

"In our country we don't have any laws or rules which will guarantee you freedom and immunity. Here you can do everything according to the law and still end up serving 10 years in jail," he said.

"I was simply told that if I do something that is not right then I will end up in jail. But what that something is -- well, no one told me."

(Writing by Richard Balmforth, editing by Tim Pearce)

 
<p>A Belarusian detainee arrested during the flash mob dubbed "Revolution through a social network", waves from a prison cell at a detention centre in Minsk July 6, 2011. Belarus's "clapping" protesters defiantly announced new street action against President Alexander Lukashenko on Monday despite a crackdown by police in which more than 300 people may have been arrested, local media reported. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko</p>