Prosecutor General sends ‘mass riots’ case to court. Jailed politician Statkevich may be one of defendants

Міkalai Statkevich at Central Election Commission. Minsk, 15 May 2020. Photo: Artsyom Lyava,

The Prosecutor General’s Office has submitted to court a criminal case over ‘mass riots’ and ‘obstructing the work of the Central Election Commission (CEC)’. There are five defendants in the case.

Four of them are charged under Art. 13-1 and Art. 293-2 (‘preparation for participation in mass riots’), Art. 293-3 (‘training persons and other kinds of prepping for participation in mass riots’) of the Criminal Code. The fifth person faces one more charge – ‘obstruction of the CEC work’ (Art. 191-2).

Taking into consideration the articles mentioned above, one can presume that political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich, a 2010 presidential candidate and the leader of the Narodnaya Hramada association, might be involved in the case. The Belarusian Investigative Committee said that the probe into his criminal case was completed, but they failed to report any specific charges. At the same time, the agency stated that the accused (Mikalai Statkevich, Syarhei Tsikhanouski and others) had been behind staging mass riots.

Official charges brought against politician Mikalai Statkevich, vlogger Dzmitry Kazlou

In addition, Statkevich made an attempt to get ‘protest’ candidates registered at the beginning of the election campaign, which could be considered as ‘an obstacle to the work of the CEC’.

Mikalai Statkevich has been behind bars since May, 31. On that day, the former political prisoner was rounded up by plainclothes men when he was going to a picket to collect signatures for wannabe presidential candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya. On June 1, the opposition politician was punished with administrative detention (15 days in custody). Then a Minsk court sentenced Statkevich to another 15-day jail term. Later, criminal charges were brought against him and his associates.

In the wake of the 2010 presidential election, Statkevich, one of the strongest rivals of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, was arrested, then convicted and sentenced to 5.5 years of imprisonment. He went at large only in the summer of 2015.

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