En masse: Police raiding offices of Belarusian human rights organisations, flats of activists

On Wednesday morning, security officers showed up at the places of Uladzimir Labkovich, the lawyer of human rights centre Viasna, and Valyantsin Stefanovich, a member of the board of Viasna; they had search warrants.

Human rights defenders Uladzimir Labkovich (L) and Valyantsin Stefanovich (R). Photos: Вясна. Правы чалавека ў Беларусі / Facebook

Labkovich managed to briefly report about the visit on Facebook. “Search,” he wrote; further details are still unknown. Stefanovich has been reportedly taken away; computer equipment and mobile phones have been seized from the family.

(UPD) There were two criminal articles mentioned in the warrant presented to Valyantsin Stefanovich: ‘organisation of actions that grossly violate public order’ (Article 342) and ‘tax evasion’(Article 243).

According to Viasna, at about 9 am officers of the Financial Investigations Department came to search the home of Hrodna-based human rights activist Viktar Sazonau.

Human rights activist Syarhei Sys has been detained in Minsk, his flat is being raided. Yauheniya Babayeva has been taken to the Investigation Committee, allegedly for interrogation. Viasna chairman Ales Byalyatski is out of reach at the moment.

Viasna chairman Ales Byalyatski.
Photo: viasna96 / Telegram

The Minsk police are also raiding the apartment of Volha Smalyanka, the director of human rights organisation Lawtrend; they are also about to come to their office, she said on Facebook.

After searching his flat, the officers detained Andrey Paluda, a coordinator of the campaign ‘Human Rights Defenders Against the Death Penalty’. The man has been taken to the Territory of Rights venue which is also expected to be scoured.

A search is underway in the office of For Freedom movement on Kulman Street in Minsk, its head Yury Hubarevich reports.


‘Some people’, allegedly officers of the Financial Investigations Department, have arrived at the office of the Imena project, its author Katsyaryna Sinyuk said on Facebook.

The police broke down the doors to get into the offices of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee.

(UPD2) Searches have been cariied out / are being carried out at:

  • the place of Tamara Matskevich (Belarusian School Association);
  • the place of Syarhei Matskevich (Community Centre)
  • the place of Kiryl Kafanau (Human Constanta in Brest)
  • the place of Mikalai Sharakh (head of the cell of the free trade union in Polatsk and members of Polatsk human rights association)
  • the place of Viasna human rights defender Alyona Laptsyonak, she has been taken to the Investigative Committee
  • the place of economist Yaraslau Ramanchuk
  • headquarters of the Belarusian People’s Front party
  • the office of the World Association of Belarusians
  • to the office of the BEROC Centre for Economic Research
  • to the office of the human rights organisation ‘Gender Perspectives’

Last week, the State Security Committee (KGB) reported the conduct of ‘an operation to clean up radicals’. The statement was voiced by Kanstantsin Bychak, the deputy head of the KGB investigation department, on the air of the state-run TV channel Belarus 1. It is unknown whether that was the operation announced by Alyaksandr Lukashenka on July 2 and whether it was connected with the attack on the free press and activists.

KGB reports ‘large-scale clean-up operation’. Results of Thursday’s attack on press and activists
2021.07.09 10:54