The Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB) keeps arresting people over the case of so-called ‘organizing mass disorder’.
On March 28, Alyaksandr Zimnitski, a research associate of the National History Museum, was arrested and added to the list of those who landed up in jail after Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s words about ‘armed militants’. By the moment, there have been 27 names on it. According to unofficial sources, only a pneumatic gun, not military weapon, was found during the search.
“Zimnitski is fond of history, he likes healthy way of life. As far as I know, he is an acquaintance of Viktar Danilau arrested on March 21. If the fact that you know someone gives ground for arrest, then it is sorst of absurdist theatre,” activist Nina Shydlouskaya says.
The list includes 27 persons – former members of White Legion, state-authorized sports and military club Patriot, Young Front activists as well as people who are not associated with any organizations. On March 28-29, the detainees were questioned in the presence of their lawyers, which gave hope that the fate of the men would be at least a bit clearer. But the KGB failed to formally charge the people arrested in the the so-called ‘preparation of mass riots’ case. They promised to do it by the latest possible date, March 31.
“Unfortunately, the game may linger on. I can’t say that the international community has adequately responded to this case. They have not stated that that it is a politically motivated and fabricated case,” Nasta Dashkevich, the wife of arrested Zmitser Dashkevich, says.
Many people have pointed to a number of inconsistencies. For example, Lukashenka’s statement about the alleged arrest of ‘militants’ looked like an order: the detentions started just on the evening of the same day. Questions also arose after state-run TV broadcast news stories about ‘the militants’ arsenal’.
According to a number of experts, state-controlled journalists must have been ordered to show airsoft weapon and drill grenades. Relatives say that some of the ‘evidence materials’ never not belonged to detainees, but appeared in their flats in the course of searches.
“Lukashenka is using this scandal to kills two birds with one stone: to stop the protests and try Europeans’ patience,” Nasta Dashkevich believes.
The EU and its member country did made some statements over the brutal suppression of the recent protests, but they are far from being strong. As for Belarusians, the latest ‘celebration’ of Freedom Day proves that their patience is running out in spite of intimidation and persecution on the part of the regime.
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On March 25, the Minsk riot police brutally dispersed the protest against the so-called tax on ‘spongers’ introduced by president Alyaksandr Lukashenka in 2015. Even women, elderly people, journalists and ordinary passers-by – were arrested, battered and jailed. It is noteworthy that the protesters also planned a peaceful celebration of Freedom Day. It is an unofficial holiday commemorating the establishment of the first Belarusian nation-state, the Belarusian People’s Republic, on March 25, 1918.