Belarus arrests air force chief: Defence Ministry

Belarus detains the head of its air force on suspicion of abuse of authority.

Minsk: Belarus has detained the head of its air force on suspicion of abuse of authority, the Defence Ministry said, without saying if the arrest had any link to a crackdown after post-election protests.

The ministry`s statement said Major General Igor Azarenok, the commander of the Air Force and Air Defence, had been arrested according to an article of the criminal code on abuse and negligence of authority.

The statement, posted on the ministry`s website late Friday, gave no further details over the timing and circumstances of the arrest.

Belarus is currently holding hundreds of people over their involvement in the protests on December 19 against the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko in polls denounced by Western observers as deeply flawed.

Those arrested include a large swathe of the country`s liberal opposition elite and several Western countries have warned Lukashenko risks total isolation if the crackdown continues.

Although it gave no details on the top general`s arrest, the Defence Ministry statement did, however, provide a long explanation over how the levels of crime in the Belarus armed forces "were amongst the lowest in the world".

It said that the level of order in any state depends on the "systemic fight against crime" and boasted that Belarus has an "uncompromising approach to those guilty of violations, irrespective of their position and record”.

"All this testifies to the purity of the authorities," it said.

Bureau Report

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