Prosecutor General Andrey Shved announces strengthening of repressive measures

On January 4, Alyaksandr Lukashenka met with Prosecutor General Andrey Shved. Officials discussed changes in legislation and the harassment of protesters.

Shved said that he had reported to Lukashenka on the results of the persecution of all participants in the “mass riots” — this is what the authorities call peaceful protests.

“In 2021, the intensity of the search for these persons will only increase. The head of state has set a task to make sure that not a single person, who had endangered the public order, raised a hand at law enforcement officers, would get away from strict responsibility,” the Prosecutor General was quoted by BelTA as saying.

On behalf of Lukashenka’s order, given in September 2020, the General Prosecutor’s Office has developed proposals to amend the legislation. It is planned to increase the responsibility for violation of public safety.

“It was about expanding the powers of prosecutors. First of all, in the procedural aspect, including in connection with the support of the state prosecution. Preliminary proposals were reported to the President of Belarus, and an order was given to submit relevant proposals this year,” said Andrei Shved. “In addition, the General Prosecutor’s Office has prepared a set of proposals related to increasing responsibility for extremism and violation of public order. And in this respect, the President of Belarus had also instructed us to submit appropriate proposals this year.”

By violation of public order, Mr Shved obviously means unauthorized protests. Article 293 (“Riots”) and Article 342 (“Organizing or actively participating in group actions that grossly violate public order”) are the documents according to which participants in peaceful protest actions are most often persecuted. In total, according to human rights activists, over the past seven months more than 900 criminal cases have been opened in Belarus in connection with protests – against participants in the presidential race, activists of headquarters, peaceful demonstrators and journalists.

Amendments to the legislation, according to Shved, will concern not only the strengthening of responsibility for extremism, but in general “the entire block of legislation, which in one way or another will ensure stability and public security in our country.” In particular, the Prosecutor General’s Office proposes to make certain actions and their qualifications as extremist.