Trend or one-off? Lukashenka starts releasing defendants in ‘armed militants’ case

On the eve of Easter, Young Front activists Zmitser Dashkevich and Syarhei Palcheuski were released on their own recognizance. On Easter morning, the both men were at a church in Minsk.

“It is God’s miracle. I did not hope they would free us. When we were transferred to the KGB jail, I thought I would have to spend much time there, but the following day I was released,” says Syarhei Palcheuski.

Three activists of the Young Front were detained in the flat of the prominent Belarusian writer Uladzimir Arlou on 22 March in Minsk. Artsyom Leuchanka was released after spending 10 days in arrest, but Palcheuski and Dashkevich were accused of preparing mass riots. Investigators said that the Warrior patriotic and sports club organized by them was nothing but a ‘militant group’.

“I am absolutely sure that this [arrest] was done to put a scare into us, but it did not work, quite the contrary,” says Artsyom Leuchanka.

Immediately after the arrest, Dashkevich’s flat was searched. They seized white-red-white flags, megaphones and money that the family was storing up for going on holiday.

According to Zmitser Dashkevich, the arrests were not only preventive measures before Freedom Day of freedom, but also a retaliation act for their defending Kurapaty:

“Perhaps, the conscience of some law enforcers woke. Moreover, our release shows that the case is absolutely fake. We hope the other defendants will soon be freed as well. “

Dashkevich and Palcheuski had been kept three weeks in prison. They were released, but the charges against Dashkevich have not been taken off yet. The activist is going to suspend the work of The Warrior for two years, but he has no intention to withdraw from political activity.

About 30 persons – former members of the defunct sports and patriotic organization White Legion, state-authorized sports and military club PatriotYoung Front activistshistorians, as well as people who are not associated with any organizations, landed up in jail soon after president Alyaksandr Lukashenka had spread the word about ‘armed militants’ posing a threat to Belarus. 20 of them were charged with establishing an illegal armed group In accordance with Article 287 of the Criminal Code.

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