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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Liberals Ousted In Belarus

MINSK, Belarus -- The Belarussian parliament dismissed the interior minister and security service chief on Tuesday, a week after they were accused of endangering national security in connection with the extradition of two Communists to Lithuania.


Deputies voted to sack Interior Minister Vladimir Yegorov and the head of the security service, Eduard Shirkovsky. But they did not muster enough votes to oust the former Soviet republic's public prosecutor. Yegorov quit on Monday but parliament had to approve his resignation.


Yegorov and Shirkovsky were among the few allies of liberal President Stanislav Shushkevich in a government ruled by conservatives. Liberal members said the allegations were a ploy to isolate Shushkevich and predicted he would be forced to resign.


Two years after independence from the Soviet Union, Belarussian politics is still firmly under the control of Communists.


Deputies denounced the arrest by Belarussian and Lithuanian police of Mykolas Burokevicius, head of Lithuania's banned Communist Party, and Jouzas Jermalavicius, the party's ideologist, wanted in Vilnius for allegedly helping Soviet troops put down a demonstration outside the Vilnius television tower in January 1991 in which 14 people were killed.


In his resignation letter Yegorov said he "recognized his mistake" in not following procedure and working with the secret service in the capture and extradition of the pair.


Shirkovsky said the vote was "strictly a political act." He said he had nothing to do with turning over the Communists to Lithuania.


Shushkevich, who has been battling conservatives for months, stormed off the podiumr. In a weekend interview with Commonwealth television, he urged deputies to turn to more important matters.