On Thursday, Ivan Naskevich, the head of the Belarusian Investigative Committee, specified the number of politically motivated criminal cases which had been initiated for the period of post-election protests.
“Since August 2020, the departments of the Investigative Committee have opened 2,407 criminal cases of extremist nature,” news agency BelTA quotes the official.
About 650 of them have already been handed over to the prosecutor for further sending referral to court, another 500 have already been heard.
The grounds for launching the cases might vary wildly, e.g. from drawing insults on the walls to the use of violence against police officers. It should be noted that the Belarusian law enforcement agencies consider almost all forms of peaceful protest and opposition activities as ‘extremism’.
In late February, Ivan Naskevich said there were around 2,300 cases of ‘extremist nature’.
On 9 August, the large-scale protests started in the country on the back of announcing the preliminary resultts of the 2020 presidential election; the major demands of Belarusians were Alyaksndr Lukashenka’s resignation; holding a free and fair election; releasing political prisoners; putting an end to police violence as well as bringing to justice those involved in battering and torturing peaceful demonstrators. There are at least seven death cases that are linked to the post-election protests. By the moment, 270 persons have been recognised as political prisoners by the Belarusian human rights community.
Several thousand detainees filed complaints against police officers’ illegal actions to the Investigative Committee. However, not a single criminal case has been opened over the citizens’ appeals.