Lukashenko shuffles Belarus government in wake of bombing

Other News Materials 16 July 2008 00:21 (UTC +04:00)

Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko on Tuesday shuffled his top state security roster in the wake of an as-yet unexplained bombing in the tightly-controlled former Soviet republic, dpa reported.

Lukashenko in the highest profile appointment named Yuriy Zaitsev the new head to the national secret police, the KGB. A close Lukashenko associate, Zaitsev's previous job was commander of the Belarusian border troops.

Vladimir Makei became the new head of the presidential administration, becoming Lukashenko's right-hand man within the country's authoritarian executive branch. He replaced Gennady Nevygas, who was sacked.

A former presidential assistant, Makei has diplomatic experience as Belarus representative at the Council of Europe. He reportedly speaks German and English.

Yuriy Zhadobin, a former head of Lukashenko's bodyguard detachment, became the head of the Belarusian National Security Council. He had previously headed the Belarusian KGB.

Zhadobin replaced Viktor Sheyman, who was sacked.

Lukashenko, shortly after an early July bombing in central Minsk injured 50, criticised Sheyman publicly, charging the then-National Security Council head with "inefficiency" in preventing the attack and declaring Sheyman "morally obliged" to leave his post.

The July 4 explosion during an outdoor rock concerned attended by more than 500,000 Belarusians including Lukashenko was unprecedented in the tightly-controlled country, where almost any public opposition to the government is repressed.

Investigators have determined a bomber or bombers used a fruit carton packed with explosives, nuts, and bolts to set off the blast, but despite dozens of arrests have as yet failed to determine who the attackers were.