Prosecutors say the main opponent of the Belarus president has been detained before the election

MINSK  Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has detained a major opponent for suppressing opponents ahead of the August 9 presidential election, lawyers for the detained candidate said Thursday.

Since his inception in 1994, Lukashenko has allowed less dissatisfaction in the former Soviet Republic but has faced the biggest challenge to his right in years, with thousands taking to the streets to support opposition candidates.

His lawyers said he questioned Viktor Baberico, who appears to be Lukashenko's chief challenger in the election. They are being questioned without citing any evidence, state television said.

"According to information we had, his car stopped and he was called for negotiations," attorney Alexander Pelchenko told reporters. "Of course this is detention."

He said Babrico did not allow lawyers to enter the building where he was taken and his legal status was unknown.

“This is a major violation of the constitutional right to protection,” said Dmitry Lovsky, one of his lawyers.

Babrico's election team said officers were also searching for Babriko's house.

Lukashenko's handling of the COVID-19 epidemic and public frustration with complaints about the economy and human rights strengthens opposition to his rule.

The former head of Gazprombank, Russia's local unit of Babriko, was attacked in June in tax evasion and money laundering case. Belgaazprombank was taken over by interim administration and took 15 employees.

Government department officials were not immediately available for comment for financial consideration.

Another election candidate said she was under pressure from a campaign that threatened to take her children this week.

Svetlana Tikanaskaya decided to run after her husband, who was accused of threatening public order, last month against a blogger from Lukashenko.

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