Lukashenka says he is behind of arresting blogger Syarhei Tsikhanouski

Лукашэнка ў Салігорску. Фота:

On June 28, state-run TV station Belarus 1 televised a speech made by Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the Belarusian city of Salihorsk last week.

The Belarusian leader promised that the upcoming election would be ‘very interesting’, and what is more, he warned that there would be even more interesting things after the election. Although Belarus is ‘being torn apart in the European Union’ and the Americans ‘have also set sights’ on it, it ‘would survive’, he stressed. At the same time, Russia cannot imagine ‘in its wildest dreams’ that they do not haveBelarus as an ally, the president believes.

Lukashenka claims that Russians understood everything after ‘that Gazprom bank had been clamped down’, referring to the arrest of his would-be rival Viktar Babaryka, a former CEO of Belgazprombank, and a number of its managers and employees.

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According to him, the situation is gradually being destabilised in Belarus, the attack on the current government is underway. It was him who ‘gave a signal’ regarding Syarhei Tsikhanouski’s case, Lukashenka admitted.

‘I have been worried about my country, for which I am still responsible. And I will always be responsible – in any capacity,” he added.

In May, Syarhei Tsikhanouski, the author of Youtube channel Страна Для Жизни (A Country for Life), revealed his presidential ambitions while serving a 15-day jail term for participating in unauthorised mass events.

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However, the Belarusian Central Election Commission refused to register his initiative group. According to them, only a person who intends to campaign for the presidency must sign the documents. As Syarhei Tsikhanouski was in custody at that moment, all the necessary documents were signed and filed by his wife. On the back of the situation, his wife Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya managed to get her initiative group registered instead.

On May 29, the police arrested Syarhei Tsikhanouski, head of his wife’s nomination group, and at least 15 persons during a peaceful picket in Hrodna. It should be noted that one of the women (Alena K.) who showed up at the picket attempted to stir up a conflict with Tsikhanouski, which resulted in pushing and jostling. According to the official version, one policeman fell down and had to be taken to hospital. On May 30, the Interior Ministry initiated criminal investigation into an alleged act of violence against two police officers.

Later, the Belarusian Investigative Committee stated that Syarhei Tsikhanouski and nine other persons were charged under Art. 342-1 (planning actions that grossly violate public order) of the Criminal Code of Belarus. The above article may carry a punishment of up to 3 years in prison. Belarusian human rights watchdogs recognised eight defendants in the case as political prisoners.

Blogger Syarhei Tsikhanouski put into solitary confinement for longer