HRC Viasna: Over 250 criminal cases opened after start of election campaign

Since early May, the Belarusian authorities have initiated over 250 criminal cases against presidential candidates, their election agents as well as peaceful protesters, human rights centre Viasna reports.

Viasna has the names of 200 persons involved in these cases. 68 of them have been recognised as political prisoners.

87 are facing charges of ‘mass riots’ (Art. 293 of the Criminal Code). Others are accused of ‘organising group actions that grossly breach public order’ (Art. 342). This charge was used to arrest a dozen activists in the so-called Tsikhanouski case, and also several participantss detained in the wake of the rally in July 14.

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Some protesters were charged with resisting police (Art. 363), using violence against law enforcement officers (Art. 364), libel (Art. 188) and hooliganism (Art. 339).

Art. 243 of the Criminal Code (tax evasion) was brought against activists of Viktar Babaryka’s campaign, several employees of companies that helped the incumbent president’s election opponents or provided assistance to victims of police violence.

The 2020 presidential voting took place on August, 9. In the course of the election campaign, Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s might-have been rivals Viktar Babaryka and Syarhei Tsikhanouski, politicians Mikalai Statkevich and Pavel Sevyarynets as well as dozens of people were placed into custody. In late June, the Belarusian Interior Ministry also launched a probe into ‘illegal activities’ in which presidential hopeful Valery Tsapkala was allegedly involved.

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