Belarus strike leader jailed; opposition activist detained

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Belarus’ authorities have handed a jail sentence to a factory strike organizer and detained a leading opposition activist, part of a methodical effort to stifle weeks of protests against the country’s authoritarian leader after an election the opposition says was rigged. President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron first for 26 years, has dismissed the protesters as Western puppets and rejected the European Union’s offers of mediation. Anatoly Bokun, who leads the strike committee at Belaruskali and was detained Monday, is facing a 15-day jail sentence. Strikes at Belaruskali and other leading industrial plants have cast an unprecedented challenge to Lukashenko, who has relied on the support of blue-collar state workers.