Germany admits training dictator's police

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The Independent Online

Germany has admitted providing police training and delivering surveillance equipment worth more than €50,000 (£40,000) to Belarusian security forces, despite the country's reputation as "Europe's last dictatorship".

The Berlin Interior Ministry said the equipment, which included computers, digital cameras and three VW police buses, was delivered to Belarus between 2008 and 2010, when Germany was providing training for the country's border guards. There were also reports that German police supplied batons and other riot combat equipment. The Interior Ministry said it could not confirm this.

The Interior Minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, was under pressure yesterday from opposition parties to explain why Germany had provided training and equipment to Belarus.

"It would have been better if the civilian population had been given support," said Cem Ozdemir, the Green party leader. Germany admitted last week it had provided training for 400 border guards and senior militia officers from 2008 in the belief that the country was committed to "a process of democracy".

The training programme was halted in 2010 following the re-election of the Belarusian dictator, President Alexander Lukashenko, a government spokesman said. The election provoked protests in Belarus amid reports that the poll was rigged. Police responded with a crackdown in which more than 600 regime critics were arrested, leading to German protests.