136 people have been taken into custody over online duscussing the tragic deaths of Minsk IT specialist Andrei Zeltsar and KGB officer Dzmitry Fedasyuk.
According to the Belarusian Investigative Committee, these people are defendants in criminal cases initiated under Article 130 (‘inciting to hatred’) and 369 (‘insulting a representative of authorities’) of the Criminal Code. The reason for their being persecuted were comments and videos which were notable for their unabashed cynicism’, the investigators said.
“136 so-called anonymous commentators became suspects in the criminal case. A measure of restraint in the form of detention was applied to them,” the statement reads.
73 of them have been recognised as political prisoners by the Belarusian human rights community. To date, there are 801 names on the list of political prisoners of Belarus.
On September 28, two persons were killed on Yakubouski Street in Minsk in the course of a KGB raid – security officer Dzmitry Fedasyuk and EPAM employee Andrey Zeltsar. In accordance with the authorities’ version, Belarusian security officers were conducting a ‘special inspection of the apartments in which people involved in terrorist activities could have been’. Andrey Zeltsar resided in the flat to which plainclothed people broke into on that day. If the Investigative Committee’s statement is anything to go by, Zeltsar fired a shotgun at the visitors and injuted one of them; later, the injured died of wounds in hospital. The owner of the apartment was killed as well; his 40-year-old wife was arrested on suspicion of complicity in the murder of a KGB officer.
The Belarusian special services have been using the tragedy on Yakubouski Street as a pretext for stepping up reprisals. On September 29-30, detentions took place in Minsk, Homiel, Vitsebsk, Mahiliou, other cities and towns of Belarus. They were detained under criminal articles 369 (‘Insulting a representative of the authorities’) and 130 (‘Inciting social hatred’); the new wave of repression is connected to the people’s discussing the story of Zeltsar and Fedasyuk and ‘leaving offensive comments on social media platforms’.
It would be good if the authorities could kill up to 100 persons (i.e. protesters or dissidents) in retaliation for one dead KGB officer, pro-Lukashenka top brass officer Aleh Belakoneu said when attending the farewell ceremony for Fedasyuk.