Belarus leader names new interior minister

Peter Spinella
·1-min read

Belarus' embattled leader Alexander Lukashenko has promoted the chief of Minsk's police force, Ivan Kubrakov, to interior minister, state media report.

There have been mass protests in Minsk every weekend since a disputed election nearly three months ago that authorities say Lukashenko won in a landslide while protesters claim the results were fabricated.

"The situation in Minsk is the most difficult today. You know it and you will have to deal with it," Lukashenko told the new interior minister in comments carried by state news agency BelTA.

Last Sunday's protest in Minsk is estimated to have drawn more than 100,000 people.

The previous interior minister, Yury Karayev, had been in the post since June last year.

He was formerly a deputy interior minister.

According to BelTA, Karayev has been demoted to serve as a presidential aide in the western Grodno region which borders Poland and Lithuania.

Belarus' political opposition and European Union officials have condemned the August 9 election as rigged to secure Lukashenko's grip on power.

The EU has refused to recognise Lukashenko as president.

Lukashenko, 66, has led Belarus for more than 26 years, tolerating little dissent.