Thirty-nine protesters faced administrative charges following yesterday’s protests in a number of Belarusian cities, the Interior Ministry’s spokesperson said. Three criminal cases were opened to investigate alleged violence against police officers, it said.
Siarhei Verameyenka, an activist in Hrodna, faced criminal charges under Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (organization or active participation in actions which grossly breach public order). The police searched a souvenir shop he owns and seized white-red-white flags and armbands.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Minsk’s Independence Square and in the central squares of Brest, Hrodna and Salihorsk. At least three protesters were detained in Minsk. Others faced charges of “illegal protesting”, including four employees of the Belarusian Philharmonic Society, which joined the protests by organizing daily street performances outside the Society’s building in Minsk.
On Sunday, August 23, seventy-nine persons were charged for “urging citizens to take part in unauthorized public events”, the Interior Ministry said, arguing that there were no detentions.
Meanwhile, media and human rights defenders report the authorities’ are going back to arresting dissenting voices across the country.
Over the past few days, police and KGB detained and questioned several members of the opposition Coordination Council and activists of striking committees organized at major enterprise to demand political changes.
In particular, riot police detained Coordination Council members Volha Kavalkova and Siarhei Dyleuski. Kavalkova was later taken to the detention center in Akrescin Street and is expected to stand trial soon, while the whereabouts of Dyleuski is still unknown. The Investigative Committee summoned for questioning two more members of the Council, Pavel Latushka and Nobel-winning author Svetlana Alexievich.
Anatol Bokun, co-chair of the striking committee at the Belaruskali enterprise in Salihorsk, was detained and fined 675 rubles on charges of organizing an illegal protest. The trial is among a few court hearings targeting activists involved in striking initiatives across the country. At least one activist was forced to leave Belarus fearing persecution by the KGB.
Several protesters were sentenced to short prison terms and fines in Hrodna, Navapolack, and Homieĺ.
As many as eighty protesters faced “illegal protesting” charges in the town of Masty, Hrodna region. The trials are scheduled for September 3.
UPD. Volha Kavalkova and Siarhei Dyleuski, both members of the presidium of the Coordination Council, have been sentenced this afternoon to 10 days in prison each.