‘Shrove Monday’: Detentions and searches in Homiel

At least eight people have been detained in the Belarusian city of Homiel on Monday, human rights activists report. Dissenters are apparently forced to tell their stories and show regret while the police are filming them.

In the morning the police made an unexpected visit to Aleh Bondarau‘s apartment at 6 am. After the raid during which they were looing for white-red-white flags, they put the man in a car and drove him away at about 10 am. Aleh is known to have been an observer in the course of the 2020 election campaign, Homiel volunteers say.

A search was also carried out in 20-year-old Alyaksei Valatouski’s flat where he resides together with his mother and minor brother, a schoolboy. According to the warrant, the search was taking place as part of a criminal investigation under the ‘extremism’ article. The officers of the notorious GUBAZIK/GUBOPiK (Main Department for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption) seized Alyaksei’s laptop and mobile phone. The young man was taken to the police department.

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Homiel residents Artur Karatkevich, Alyaksandr Tsyhankou, Andrey Samuseu, Alyaksandr Sivakou, Veranika Kukharava, Hanna Mikhno have been detained today as well. Moreover, they seem to have been made to appear in so called the repentant videos published on GUBAZiK’s Telegram channel.

“So, GUBAZiK announces a Shrove Monday! Today zmagars [protesters – Belsat] will make a pilgrimage to loyal law enforcement officers in order to mend their dissipated ways,” officers mockingly commented on the situation on Telegram.

The dissenters are compelled to apologise for the fact that they were subscribed to protest-linked Telegram channels. Notably, reading the online resources recognised as ‘extremist’ by the authorities is neither offense nor crime even under current law.

As reported earlier, Belarusian security forces keep making many compatriots repent on camera, threatening them with dismissal, arrest, or more drastic punishment.

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