April 13 (Bloomberg) -- The suspects in this week’s subway bombing in Minsk that killed 12 people have confessed, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“We know who did it and how,” he said today at a government meeting, according to state-run news agency Belta. “We don’t yet know why, but we’ll know soon.”
An explosive device went off during the evening rush hour on April 11, also wounding 192 people at Minsk’s busiest metro station, which is near the presidential residence. Lukashenko said his political opponents will be questioned in connection with the crime, the Russian state-run news service RIA Novosti reported from the former Soviet nation’s capital Minsk.
Authorities detained three people in connection with the explosion the next day after it happened, all of whom admitted to involvement in the attack, Belta cited Interior Minister Anatoly Kuleshov as saying today. The three were Belarusian citizens, one of whom was wanted for earlier bombings, he said.
“Today, at 5 a.m. in the morning, the crime was solved,” Lukashenko said. “Our secret agents and police needed only 24 hours to carry out a brilliant operation at 9 p.m. last night and arrest the culprits without firing a shot.”
Lukashenko, 56, whose government is under European Union sanctions, extended his 16-year rule in December elections that international observers condemned as undemocratic. His regime, dubbed “Europe’s last dictatorship” by the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush, cracked down on demonstrators after the vote, arresting more than 700 people, including opposition candidates.
The subway attack sought to destabilize the situation in the country and may be indirectly linked with the election, Zaitsev said yesterday, Belta reported.
Belarus, which lies wedged between EU member Poland and Russia, transports about a fifth of Russian gas shipments to Europe. It has been struggling to keep its public finances afloat in recent weeks after foreign reserves dwindled and ratings services downgraded the country’s debt. The government is seeking a loan of $3 billion from Russia and other former Soviet partners.
The explosion may act to “divert” the country’s attention from the crisis amid “apparently unpopular measures being implemented by the state,” Renaissance Capital analyst Anastasiya Golovach said in an e-mailed research note yesterday.
To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at email@example.com