Nine persons were arrested as part of criminal investigation into the case of alleged violence against police officers in Hrodna. The homes of four of them have been searched, human rights centre Viasna reports.
Human rights activists have published the names of the detained after the incident in Hrodna: Syarhei Tsikhanouski, Yauhen Raznichenka, Dzmitry Furmanau, Uladzimir Navumik, Vyarhily Ushak, Alyaksandr Aranovich, Syarhei Kalmykou, Vasily Babrouski and Artsyom Sakau.
Sakau is being held in the detention centre in Hrodna, the rest were taken to the Belarusian capital. Tsikhanouski’s cameraman Vyarhily Ushak is known to have been put in Minsk remand prison #1 in Valadarski Street.
On Monday, the three-day period from the moment of detention expired, but none of them was released. The men continue to remain in custody; the detention period seems to have been extended to ten days. In accordance with the law, then they must either be released or officially charged.
Uladzimir Navumik’s apartment in Hrodna was raided, the police confiscated a laptop and pendrives. Searches were also conducted in the flats of Raznichenka, Kalmykou, Babrouski and relatives of some of the detainees.
In early May, Syarhei Tsikhanouski, the author of Youtube channel Страна Для Жизни ( A Country for Life) staged meetings with the subscribers in several Belarusian cities and towns. The local authorities made attempts to thwart the events; later, many participants were detained or summoned to the police.
While serving a 15-day jail term for participating in unauthorised mass events, the blogger revealed his presidential ambitions. However, the Belarusian Central Election Commission refused to register his initiative group, referring to the alleged violation of the submission procedure. As Syarhei Tsikhanouski was in custody at that moment, all the necessary documents were signed and filed by his wife Svyatlana. Although CEC officials admitted that the candidature of Tsikhanouski met the requirements of the electoral law, he was turned down. According to them, only a person who intends to campaign for the presidency must sign the documents.
On the back of the situation, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya managed to get her initiative group registered instead; it consists of 252 members. To officially become a presidential candidate, the woman 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.
Last Friday, during a peaceful picket in Hrodna, the police arrested Syarhei Tsikhanouski, head of the nomination group, and at least 15 picketers. On May 30, the Interior Ministry initiated criminal investigation into an alleged act of violence against police officers.
On May 31, over 30 persons, including members of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s initiative group and civil activists, were detained or prevented from taking part in pre-election pickets, the human rights centre Viasna reports. Notably, a wannabe presidential candidate does not have to get permission from the authorities for holding such a pre-election picket.
The representatives of Belarusian human rights organisations have recognised Syarhei Tsikhanouski as political prisoner and called on the Belarusian authorities to immediately release him and other detainees.