Today Belarusian blogger and political prisoner Syarhei Tsikhanouski turns 42.
Unfortunately, he is not spending this day together with his family; he is now being held in a cell in Minsk pre-trial detention centre #1 in Valadarski Street. However, dozens of Belarusians came to the prison walls to show their support.
The people were chanting: ‘Happy birthday, Syarhei!’, ‘Freedom’, ‘Lukashenka, step down!’ They were singing Walls, a song that became one of the symbols of protest in Belarus. There were many holiday posters and white-red-white flags. Even an impromptu rally took place, at which not only the blogger’s supporters but also passers-by had the floor.
In May, Syarhei Tsikhanouski, the author of Youtube channel Страна Для Жизни (A Country for Life), revealed his presidential ambitions while serving a 15-day jail term for participating in unauthorised mass events.
However, the Belarusian Central Election Commission refused to register his initiative group. According to them, only a person who intends to campaign for the presidency must sign the documents. As Syarhei Tsikhanouski was in custody at that moment, all the necessary documents were signed and filed by his wife. On the back of the situation, his wife Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya managed to get her initiative group registered instead.
On May 29, the police arrested 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.
Later, the Belarusian Investigative Committee stated that Syarhei Tsikhanouski and nine other persons were charged under Art. 342-1 (planning actions that grossly violate public order) of the Criminal Code of Belarus. Later, he faced new accusationы, including inciting social hatred , calling for violent and aggressive actions against law enforcement officers, preparing for mass riots. Taking into account all the charges charges, Tsikhanouski may face up to 12 years in prison.