On Wednesday, Belarusian investigators have indicted politician Mikalai Statkevich and vlogger Dzmitry Kazlou aka Grey Cat.
They are accused of ‘organisation or participation in group actions that grossly violate public order’ under Article 342-1 of the Criminal Code of Belarus. It may carry a punishment of up to 3 years in prison.
According to the official version, the suspects, along with a group of people by prior conspiracy with Tsikhanouski, Aranovich, Sakau, Furmanau, Novikau and others, distributed the roles and coordinated actions, under the formal pretext of collecting signatures for presidential wannabe Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, organised an illegal rally in the city of Hrodna on May, 29. On that day, the police arrested popular blogger Syarhei Tsikhanouski, head of his wife’s nomination group, and at least 15 persons during a peaceful picket in Hrodna. It should be noted that one of the women (Alena K.) who showed up at the picket attempted to stir up a conflict with Tsikhanouski, which resulted in pushing and jostling. According to the official version, one policeman fell down and had to be taken to hospital. On May 30, the Interior Ministry initiated criminal investigation into an alleged act of violence against two police officers.
Neither Statkevich nor Kazlou admitted their guilt, defense lawyer Uladzimir Sazanchuk says. Mikalai Statkevich claims that his last visit to Hrodna took place in the autumn of 2019.
Mikalai Statkevich has been under arrest 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. He is still being held in detention facility in Minsk.
Dzmitry Kazlou, a Youtube blogger from the town of Baran, was detained on June 10, together with the activists of European Belarus Artsyom Charnyak and Mikhail Bandarenka. The next day he was punished with 20 days of arrest and, accordingly, was to be released on June, 30. However, he remains behind bars – in a temporary detention centre on Akrestsin Street in Minsk.
Belarusian human rights watchdogs have recognised Statkevich, Kazlou, and other defendants in the so called Tsikhanouski case as a political prisoners.