Prosecutor of Minsk: Authorities set to toughen penalty for participating in protests

Detainee injured by siloviki during march of Honour in Minsk. 11 October 2020. Photo:: BelaPAN / Reuters / Forum

There might be harsher punishments for taking part in ‘unauthorised rallies’, Aleh Laurukhin, Head of Minsk Prosecutor’s Office, said in a recent interview with state-run TV station CTV.

He also confirmed the fact of mass detentions of post-election protesters in August, 2020.

According to him, about 3,000 persons were brought to administrative liability in the wake of the presidential vote; another 250 are involved in criminal cases.

Aleh Laurukhin, Head of Minsk Prosecutor’s Office

The top official also said that the Belarusian authorities were working on toughening the penalty slapped on offenders under Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (‘violating rules of organising or holding mass events’). The proper measures are to be taken in order to ‘minimise risks for people showing up at mass events’, he added.

At the present moment, committing a violation as part of the above article may be punishable by issuing a warning; imposing a fine of up to 810 Belarusian rubles); placing under administrative arrest.

As reported earlier, First Deputy Interior Minister Henadz Kazakevich stated that lethal weapons might be used against protesters. In his view, the protests which shifted mainly to Minsk have become ‘organised and very radical’.

Interior Ministry threatens to use lethal weapons against protesters

On October 11, around 100,000 people showed up at the March of Honour in the Belarusian capital and other cities and towns. According to human rights centre Viasna, over 600 persons were detained throughout Belarus. The participants in Sunday’s March were facing inexorable pressure from siloviki: water cannons, tear gas, flashbang grenades, rubber bullets were used against them.

A day later, several hundred senior citizens took to Minsk streets to protest against police violence. However, the authorities resorted to excessive force against elderly people as well; there are the names of over 100 detainees on Viasna’s list.

‘Grannies against violence’: Pensioners’ March in Minsk and regions