MINSK — Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka has replaced the country’s Investigative Committee chief and several other senior officials amid a continued crackdown on protesters demanding his resignation over an election last year they say was rigged.
On March 11, Lukashenka’s press service said that Ivan Naskevich, who ran the Investigative Committee, was replaced by Dzmitry Hara, who had worked as the deputy prosecutor-general before his appointment.
Hara, 50, also led the interministerial commission that studied numerous complaints filed by ordinary citizens who said they faced beatings, torture, and police brutality during demonstrations that followed the disputed August 9 presidential poll where Lukashenka was declared the winner.
The results, which the opposition disputed, prompted tens of thousands of Belarusians to rally across the country against the authoritarian leader who has ruled the country since 1994.
Thousands of citizens, including dozens of journalists covering the protests, have been detained by authorities, with some being handed prison terms.
Hundreds have been beaten by security forces and several protesters have died in the violence, while a number of rights organizations say there is credible evidence of torture being used by security officials against some detainees.
Still, the Hara-led commission did not launch a single probe into any of the complaints filed.
On March 11, Lukashenka also appointed Vadzim Sinyauski as the new emergency minister, Andrey Zhuk as deputy defense minister, Viktar Hulevich as general staff chief for the Belarusian armed forces.
Several other deputies at various ministries, commanders of military districts, and regional officials were also appointed.