‘We’ve set the ball rolling’: Lukashenka to stiffen penalties for participating in protests

Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Photo: president.gov.by

On the second day of the Belarusian People’s Congress, Alyaksandr Lukashenka announced the plans to change the law on mass events.

“Whether one likes it or not, we have set the ball rolling, I have instructed a number of government agencies to prepare drafts of corresponding regulatory legal acts. Not only putting an end to all mass riots is important, it is vital that we look like a civilised state and these laws show anyone what the consequences certain actions will carry,” Lukashenka stressed.

According to him, the Belarusian parliament will adopt the relevant laws in the near future.

On January 28, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that the situation in the country had been brought under control thanks to security services’ actions:

“Law enforcement and other government agencies prevented our country from falling into the abyss of another colour revolution, no matter how much the foreign sponsors of the protests might want it.”

In his opinion, the country’s legislation had been liberalised very much over the past years, but ‘recent developments’ made the Belarusian offiсials wonder whether they ‘had not gone too far’.

No protests and no repression against former government: Lukashenka describes conditions of his resignation

In accordance with the official resolution by the rubber-stamping Central Election Commission, 80.1% of voters supported Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the 2020 presidential election. Belarusian officials state that his strongest rival Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya got 10.12% of votes. However, on the back of announcing the results of the official exit polls, Belarusians started to take to the streets, claiming that their votes were stolen. The major demands of protesting Belarusians are Lukashenka’s resignation; holding a free and fair election; releasing political prisoners; putting an end to police violence as well as propaganda on state-run TV stations.

From the start of the election campaign in May 2020 to the end of the year, more than 33,000 individuals were detained, most of whom were later sentenced by courts to terms of administrative detention and heavy fines, In the post-election period criminal cases were instituted against more than 900 citizens; human rights centre Viasna knows the names of more than 650 people involved in criminal cases. 246 defendants were recognised as political prisoners by the Belarusian human rights community.

Over the first month of 2021, the Belarus police detained 873 people across the country for their participation in peaceful protests, as well as for hanging white-red-white flags and other symbols.

Lukashenka regime sentenced Belarusians to 227 years in prison