Mahiliou-based journalists Alyaksandr Burakou and Uladzimir Laptsevich, who are currently being kept in the local pre-trial detention centre, have started hungerstriking, MayDay reports.
They are protesting against their being taken into custody and initiating an administrative case against them. The authorities accuse them of ‘participating in an unauthorised mass event’ near Mahiliou regional court, where they came to report from the high-profile trial.
Their relatives were informed of the hunger strike when they were handing over parcels to the two detainees; warm clothes and essentials were accepted, but food products were given back.
On May 12, Mahiliou regional court started hearing the cases of the European Belarus civil campaign activists (Yauhen Afnahel, Pavel Yukhnevich, Maksim Vinyarski, Andrey Voynich), blogger Zmitser Kazlou, web activist and Telegram channel administrator Iryna Shchasnaya, opposition politician Pavel Sevyarynets.
The trial is being held behind the closed doors. Twenty minutes prior to Wednesday’s hearing, about 40 persons who came to express their solidarity with political prisoners were ordered to leave the court building. The police warned that if they failed to obey, the gathering would be considered as an ‘unauthorised mass event’.
Even family members of the defendants were barred from entering the courtroom; according to the authorities, the materials of the cases are related to a secret ‘protected by law’. For this reason, their defence lawyers have been obliged not to break the secrecy of the investigation; they cannot disclose any details.