On October 1, the Belarusian Interior Ministry started sending SMS messages to residents of Minsk, claiming that they had violated the rules of holding mass events.
According to the text, its recipient’s actions were captured on photo or video, i.e. a person was spotted in taking part in protests.
“These events were staged by persons accused of organising and preparing actions that grossly violate public order (Art. 342 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus). We personally warn you of the inadmissibility of participating in unauthorised mass events; it is punishable by the law. Do not make mistakes,” the message reads.
Even those who never showed up at protest rallies got such texts, Belsat TV viewers inform us.
A journalist who was covering the demonstrations on September 26 and 27 found himself among the addressees, MBKh Media reports.
According to the Belarusian Central Election Commission, 80.1% of voters supported Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the 2020 presidential election. Belarusian officials state that his strongest opponent 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.
Over the past weeks, Minsk has been facing the most large-scale rallies and pickets in its history. Lots of its residents leave their homes in bedroom communities and march to the centre of the city. They are often accompanied by violence, and during the first days of 9 to 12 August detainees testified to various forms of torture.