Fines and jail terms: Trials of activists, initiative group members in Belarus

Dozens are standing trials in Minsk and other Belarusian cities in the wake of Sunday’s pickets.

This year’s presidential campaign is indicative of the people’s fatigue with the 26-year rule of Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Since late May, thousands of people throughout the country have been lining up to put their signatures for any of his rivals. Especially large queues formed after blogger Syarhei Tsikhanouski, a trustee and husband of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, had been detained in Hrodna on May, 29.

Predictably, Lukashenka is sensitive about domestic unrest over his rule. Last week, the Belarusian leader hinted that he might order to shoot at those who are hardly on the same page with him. He also ordered Minsk Mayor Anatol Sivak and law enforcement agencies to ‘ensure total order in the hero city of Minsk’. In turn, Sivak called the collection of signatures in Minsk ‘provocation’. In his opinion, staging rallies, holding discussions, expressing opinions should not happen when Belarusians sign for this or that candidate. Notably, a presidential hopeful does not have to get permission from the authorities for holding such a picket.

More than thousand attend pre-election pickets of Lukashenka’s rivals (photos)

On Monday, Savetski district court of Minsk found Aleh Babrouski, a member of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya‘s initiative group, guilty of violating Art. 23.4 (disobedience to a police officer) and 23.34 (participation in an unauthorised event) of the Code of Administrative Offences. The activist has been sentenced to 20 days of arrest.

Activist Volha Nikalaichyk, who were detained after the picket at Kamarouski market on June 7, appeared before Pershamaiski district court of Minsk. She has been given a 15-day jail term. The same penalty has been imposed on Valyantsin Fralou, a representative of Volha Kavalkova’s nomination group; Pavel Sevyarynets, a co-chair of Belarusian Christian Democracy party, and Narodnaya Hramada activist Ryhor Pahartsau, human rights centre Vyasna reports. Aleh Paulau has got a five-day prison term.

Activists Usyaslau Pashkevich and Dzmitry Razhkou have been fined 810 rubles each. In Vitsebsk, a fine of 1,080 rubles has been slapped on Alena Yanushkouskaya.

Election-2020: Unexpected candidates spark Belarusian civil society

The Belarusian Central Election Commission (CEC) have registered 15 of 55 initiative groups. It means that over a dozen wannabe got the green light for collecting signatures to be nominated for the 2020 presidential run. To officially become a presidential candidate, each of them will have to collect 100,000 signatures until June, 19. The names of the candidates will be announced in mid July, and the election will be held on August, 9.