Belarus detains dozens over social media comments on Minsk shoot-out

Eighty-seven people were arrested in Belarus for commenting on social media about a shoot-out that claimed two lives, a human rights group says.

It is the latest crackdown by Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko, since he claimed victory in discredited elections over a year ago.

An IT worker and a KGB security agent were shot dead during a raid on a flat in the capital Minsk on Tuesday.

Andrey Zeltser, 31, was believed to be an opposition supporter.

It is unclear how he and the agent were killed, and critics have cast doubt on a state video purporting to show the raid taking place.

Zeltser worked for American IT firm Epam Systems and reportedly had US citizenship. Epam’s boss in the US has in the past been accused by the Belarusian leader of financing protests.

A heavily-edited video released by Belarus state media showed the KGB storming his flat as he appeared to wait with his back to the camera, brandishing a gun.

There is no explanation how they got hold of images from inside the apartment and there is no image of Zeltser himself opening fire.

The KGB man killed in the raid was named as Dmitry Fedosiuk and a funeral ceremony for him took place on Friday in Minsk. Mr Lukashenko said Fedosiuk had run into the flat and been shot in the heart.

“We will not forgive them for the death of this guy,” said Mr Lukashenko.

Human rights group Viasna96 said mass detentions began on Wednesday in reaction to social media posts about the shooting. They continued on Thursday and the Belarusian leader said on Friday that the number in custody was now in the hundreds.