Updated at 17:11,20-07-2018

Masked men attack opposition politician Ukhnalyow on his way to Minsk from Lithuania


Masked men attacked Valery Ukhnalyow on a road near Valozhyn shortly after midnight on October 1 as the deputy chair of the Spravedlivy Mir (Just World) Belarusian Party of the Left was returning to Minsk from Lithuania by car with his daughter Antanina and associate Vatslaw Areshka.

A man wearing a traffic police uniform pulled over the car at around 1:30 a.m., said the opposition party`s press office.

After the three stepped out by the mans order, two cars drove up. Masked men leaped out of them; they knocked Mr. Ukhnalyow down, tied his hands with a plastic cable and dragged him 15 meters away into bushes, according to the press office.

They searched Mr. Ukhnalyow, his daughter and Mr. Areshka, stealing their bags, mobile phones, two laptop computers and the keys to Mr. Ukhnalyows home and car.

The press office quoted Spravedlivy Mir Chairman Syarhey Kalyakin as saying that Mr. Ukhnalyow had had a large sum of cash stolen from him. Mr. Ukhnalyow wanted to buy in Vilnius medications for his wife who has cancer, but he failed to do that and still had the cash on him on his way back, said Mr. Kalyakin.

"They acted tough," said Mr. Ukhnalyow. "They knocked me down and told me to keep silent, or else I would never be able to say anything any more. They dragged me into a forest. They did not beat me strongly (I sustained only several bruises to my face and body). And they did not demand anything or ask any questions."
After the gangsters left, the trio asked the driver of a passing car to call police. In 30 minutes, officers of the Valozhyn district police department arrived to examine the scene. According to Mr. Ukhnalyow, the police acted professionally.

Mr. Ukhnalyow suggested that the attack had been orchestrated by authorities in an attempt to intimidate him and his fellow party members. "We have lately intensified our activities," he said. "I took part in several international conferences at which I repeatedly voiced a position differing greatly from that held by the authorities".